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This three-volume study by the Scottish churchman and social reformer Thomas Chalmers (1780-1847) is a revealing work of Christian morality as applied to urban economic theory. Having moved to Glasgow in 1815, Chalmers was given a free hand in 1819 for an experiment in urban ministry at the new parish of St John's in the poorest district of the city. His reforms improved education and reduced the need for institutional poor relief by dividing the area into manageable 'proportions' that were closely looked after by parish elders and deacons, reviving a traditional community spirit and promoting self-help. Although sometimes severe, Chalmers' system and this influential work reflect Enlightenment optimism regarding human nature, suggesting the need for the Church of Scotland to respond actively to problems of urban industrialisation. Volume 2, published in 1823, investigates the nature of pauperism in Scotland and England and the ways in which Parliament and the parish can work towards its abolition.
Cambridge University Press
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