Kinship and Capitalism

Kinship and Capitalism : Marriage, Family, and Business in the English-Speaking World, 1580-1740

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This uncompromisingly empirical study reconstructs the public and private lives of urban business families during the period of England's emergence as a world economic power. Using a broad cross-section of archival, rather than literary, sources, it tests the orthodox view that the family as an institution was transformed by capitalism and individualism. The approach is both quantitative and qualitative. A database of 28,000 families has been constructed to tackle questions such as demographic structure, kinship and inheritance, which must be answered statistically. Much of the book, however, focuses on issues such as courtship and relations among spouses, parents and children, which can only be studied through those families that have left intimate records. The overall conclusion is that none of the abstract models invented to explain the historical development of the family withstand empirical scrutiny and that familial capitalism, not possessive individualism, was the motor of economic growth.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 528 pages
  • 163 x 238 x 36mm | 940g
  • Cambridge, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 42 Tables, unspecified
  • 0521782031
  • 9780521782036

Table of contents

Tables; Abbreviations; Explanatory notes; Preface; Introduction: models and myths; Part I. Marriage: 1. Making a match; 2. Husbands and wives; 3. Widowers and widows; Part II. The Business Family: 4. Parents and children; 5. Adulthood and old age; 6. Kin and community; Part III. The Family Business: 7. Men in business; 8. Women in business; 9. Inheritance and advancement; Conclusion: capitalism and the life cycle; Appendices; Sources; Index.
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Review quote

'Richard Grassby has certainly enhanced our understanding of the family's contribution by means of his tireless accumulation, organization and analysis of a prodigious mountain of evidence ... This immensely ambitious book compels respect, even awe. All its readers will learn a great deal from it; many will wish they could have learnt more.' The English Historical Review '... a well researched, significant and trenchant study.' History 'The book puts together an impressive amount of evidence ... This is undoubtedly a significant contribution.' History of Economic Ideas '... a valuable resource and an excellent work of reference of the well-to-do business family in the pre-industrial period.' Business History 'The sections on the accumulation of capital, on women and widows in business are particularly full of interesting stimuli for social and economic historians, and will not fail to inspire future research in what remains the great unanswered question in the relationship between family and business ... ' Journal of Urban History "This is one of the most important works on early modern English religion to have appeared for many years." American Historical Review "...original in conception and well researched and presented...invaluable for understanding the economic and social change that shaped early modern Britain." Journal of Social History "...a significant contribution..." Renaissance Quarterly "Grassby's curiosity is quite wide-ranging, and many of the topics covered are handled in a thought-provoking and disciplined manner...a valuable resource that also raises intriguing questions for all interested in the evolution of the premodern business family." Journal of Interdisciplinary History
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