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Wednesday 18 March 2020 16.30 - 18.30
X-4 SOC04 Negotiating Community in Eighteenth-century Poor Relief Reforms
Matthias de Vrieshof 4, 008A
Network: Social Inequality Chair: Maarten Prak
Organizers: David Briscoe, Marjolein Schepers Discussant: Maarten Prak
Erica G.H. Boersma : Quantifying Solidarity. Giving to Co-relegionists in the Dutch Republic, c.1620-1795
Those who delve deeper into the archive of any early modern city will be struck by the frequency of all kinds of collections as well as by the variety of collection goals, such as for foreign and domestic coreligionists, domestic victims of disasters or enslaved seamen.

This paper will concentrate ... (Show more)
Those who delve deeper into the archive of any early modern city will be struck by the frequency of all kinds of collections as well as by the variety of collection goals, such as for foreign and domestic coreligionists, domestic victims of disasters or enslaved seamen.

This paper will concentrate on collections for foreign coreligionists and show that these were often immensely successful. To explain this success I will briefly trace the organisation of these collections from the 1620s to the middle of the eighteenth century. My research shows that a nationalization of charitable giving to foreign Calvinists occurred in the middle of the seventeenth century thereby widening the participation to these collections as groups of different religious convictions were included. I will argue that the arguments used to persuade individual donors to give changed as a result and conclude that public support was not only based on a sense of belonging to an international Calvinist community but also on civic duty and a shared sense of common humanity.

Historians usually focus on either poor relief or collections for other goals. Yet ordinary people were confronted with both types of collections. Did giving to giving to local goals suffer from giving to non-local goals? To get an idea of the impact on the donors the second and most important part of this paper will, based on the case of Amsterdam, quantitatively analyse the charitable gift to some highly successful collections for non-local goals. This analysis entails a comparison with donations to the major institutions for the local poor. This comparison will include collections for foreign coreligionists, Huguenot immigrants and domestic disaster victims. Studying these collections through a local lens shows that Amsterdammers donated a substantial sum of money to foreign Calvinists on top of their yearly donations for the local reformed poor. It will also show that the widening of the participation to these collections as a result of nationalisation and the changed argumentation had little effect on the donations. (Show less)

David Briscoe : To whom do the Poor Belong? Conceptualising Community and the Common Good in French Poor Relief Reforms from Turgot to the Revolution, c.1774-1791
While the multifarious attempts to rationalise the provision of poor relief in France over the course of the eighteenth century have frequently been analysed through the prism of an intellectual and institutional tug-of-war between Catholic charity and Enlightened bienfaisance, this paper seeks to address another dimension of these reforms: the ... (Show more)
While the multifarious attempts to rationalise the provision of poor relief in France over the course of the eighteenth century have frequently been analysed through the prism of an intellectual and institutional tug-of-war between Catholic charity and Enlightened bienfaisance, this paper seeks to address another dimension of these reforms: the expanding idea of a national community, and its frequently fraught relationship with local and provincial communities. This process was closely tied to the expansion of the central government’s control over the definition, policing and relief of the poor, yet, as this paper will demonstrate, was always a separate process, subject to its own fitful series of advances and retrenchments.

The question of whether the poor should be maintained from local funds levied and administered by local bodies and institutions, or by the agents of the central state featured prominently in debates surrounding poor relief reform throughout the latter half of the eighteenth century. In answering this question, participants in these debates made significant statements about the nature of poverty as a social, political, economic and moral condition; about the limits and nature of the community upon which the pauper made claims, and through membership of which they acquired the rights to make these claims; and, not least, about the function of the state. This paper takes as its starting point two mémoires submitted to the Constituent Assembly’s Comité de Mendicité, and their diametrically opposed understanding of the relationship between national and local community. It will draw upon a wide range of printed and manuscript sources to examine how these issues were conceptualised, contested and answered under the ancien régime, and how the echoes of these debates informed the understanding of the national community among those determined to assist in its reification through the establishment of a rational, useful and above standardised system of national relief. (Show less)

David Hitchcock : Imagining Communities without Poverty: from the Poor Man’s Advocate to Benthamite ‘National Charity’, 1649-1800
In a precocious and criminally understudied pamphlet in 1649, the Hartlib correspondent, midwife and barber surgeon, and amateur utopianist Peter Chamberlen proposed nationalising all property and industry seized from Royalists during the first and second civil wars. Chamberlen suggested that Parliament create an early modern ‘works project administration’, what he ... (Show more)
In a precocious and criminally understudied pamphlet in 1649, the Hartlib correspondent, midwife and barber surgeon, and amateur utopianist Peter Chamberlen proposed nationalising all property and industry seized from Royalists during the first and second civil wars. Chamberlen suggested that Parliament create an early modern ‘works project administration’, what he described at the time as a ‘joynt stock’ which would provision the poorest with work, wages, and ultimately, improved lands on former fenscapes or wastes, all for ‘the benefit of the Whole Nation, by improving of lands that were never improved, by imploying of men that were not only useless, but a burthen… and by converting them into good Commonwealthsmen’ (4). Chamberlen and thinkers like him form part of a large tradition of ‘social dreamers’ concerned with the transubstantiation of poverty into productivity, a notion which would occasion national projects of education, discipline, and terraforming between approximately 1600 and 1800. In this paper I propose to examine the emergence of a form of 'terraforming', aimed at the production of societies and communities without poverty. This strand of 'welfare colonialism' emerged as part of the early modern project of ‘improving’ the state, and it traced an arc across a long eighteenth century. This paper begins with the radical Hartlib circle, and ends with the legacy of Bentham at the beginning of the 19th century. Their ideas for radical reform manifested foremost as immense institutions, panopticons, ironically designed by the end of the century to control and discipline the poorest and most marginal out of existence. Public assistance, whether imagined or real, whether local to the parish or punitively international in its vision, was never to be the same again. (Show less)

Marjolein Schepers : The Boundaries of Belonging: Migration, Settlement and Community Formation in the Context of Poor Relief Reforms in the Southern Netherlands, 1750-1800
This paper seeks to analyse how migration and belonging tied in to efforts of ‘rationalising’ social policy in the eighteenth-century. Several regions in the Austrian Netherlands introduced workhouses, ‘workfare’, reforms of relief institutions and changes in entitlements to relief. Historians have recently started analysing the implications of these reforms for ... (Show more)
This paper seeks to analyse how migration and belonging tied in to efforts of ‘rationalising’ social policy in the eighteenth-century. Several regions in the Austrian Netherlands introduced workhouses, ‘workfare’, reforms of relief institutions and changes in entitlements to relief. Historians have recently started analysing the implications of these reforms for settlement, that is, the system through which it was decided which parish a pauper belonged to. This paper compares legislation and bottom-up agreements on settlement in different regions of the Southern Netherlands, such as the Concordat of Ypres and agreements in Maldegem, Waasland and Arkel. Focused in time and space to the second half of the eighteenth-century in Flanders and Brabant, this comparative research on changes in settlement and relief entitlements will focus on conceptions of community and belonging, analysing the extent to which these notions were reconfigured through the relief reforms of the late eighteenth century. As such, this investigation sheds a new light on debates in migration history, which have often focused on urban migration or the state expansion of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. It moreover connects research on the inclusion and exclusion of migrants to research on poor relief in the context of enlightened thinking and attempts at rationalisation. Such an exchange of theories and concepts helps to develop both fields further and to identify gaps in our knowledge. (Show less)



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