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Domestic Production and Consumption in Poor English Households, 1670-1840
journal contributionposted on 2023-09-01, 14:45 authored by Joseph Harley
This article uses over 450 pauper inventories from Essex and Norfolk to examine domestic production and consumption in the homes of paupers. It finds that as the dependent poor obtained more consumer goods from the 1770s, their households were diverse spaces that contained a wide range of small-scale domestic industries such as baking, farming, and spinning. This evidence suggests that there are limits to Jan de Vries’ ‘industrious revolution’ theory, which claims that households specialized and moved away from modest domestic ventures to acquire new consumer goods over the eighteenth century. Pauper inventories indicate that it was only from the early nineteenth century, when numerous consumer goods had already entered the homes of the poor, that domestic production became less prevalent in pauper homes. In doing this, the study also has important implications on other influential historiographical debates, such as the demise of the old poor law, the role of consumer demand, standards of living, and women and children’s work.
Publication titleAgricultural History Review
PublisherBritish Agricultural History Society
- Accepted version