Accounting for Oneself: Worth, Status, and the Social Order in Early Modern England (Paperback)
  • Accounting for Oneself: Worth, Status, and the Social Order in Early Modern England (Paperback)
zoom

Accounting for Oneself: Worth, Status, and the Social Order in Early Modern England (Paperback)

(author)
£24.99
Paperback 384 Pages / Published: 12/04/2018
  • We can order this

Usually dispatched within 1 week

  • This item has been added to your basket
Accounting for Oneself is a major new study of the social order in early modern England, as viewed and articulated from the bottom up. Engaging with how people from across the social spectrum placed themselves within the social order, it pieces together the language of self-description deployed by over 13,500 witnesses in English courts when answering questions designed to assess their creditworthiness. Spanning the period between 1550 and 1728, and with a broad geographical coverage, this study explores how men and women accounted for their 'worth' and described what they did for a living at differing points in the life-cycle. A corrective to top-down, male-centric accounts of the social order penned by elite observers, the perspective from below testifies to an intricate hierarchy based on sophisticated forms of social reckoning that were articulated throughout the social scale. A culture of appraisal was central to the competitive processes whereby people judged their own and others' social positions. For the majority it was not land that was the yardstick of status but moveable property-the goods and chattels in people's possession ranging from livestock to linens, tools to trading goods, tables to tubs, clothes to cushions. Such items were repositories of wealth and the security for the credit on which the bulk of early modern exchange depended. Accounting for Oneself also sheds new light on women's relationship to property, on gendered divisions of labour, and on early modern understandings of work which were linked as much to having as to getting a living. The view from below was not unchanging, but bears witness to the profound impact of widening social inequality that opened up a chasm between the middle ranks and the labouring poor between the mid-sixteenth and mid-seventeenth centuries. As a result, not only was the social hierarchy distorted beyond recognition, from the later-seventeenth century there was also a gradual yet fundamental reworking of the criteria informing the calculus of esteem.

Publisher: Oxford University Press
ISBN: 9780198820468
Number of pages: 384
Weight: 550 g
Dimensions: 233 x 152 x 21 mm


MEDIA REVIEWS
Based on vast evidencenearly fourteen thousand witness depositions, Alexandra Shepard's Accounting for Oneself unpacks how ordinary people valued themselves and defined self-esteem. By attending to the language and the circumstances of these witnesses, among them the poor and women who left little official record, Shepard reveals how, in contrast to middling classes, social order was understood from below. This methodologically innovative book is poised to have a broader impact on early modern European historiography. * Comments from the AHA Leo Gershoy Award Committee *
[Shepard] has shown what the 'profound breach' that opened between rich and poor in the hundred years after 1550 did to older ways of understanding status - how the meanings of worth were stretched and finally broken. In doing so she has given us a vivid, original description of that old economic order. * Jonah Miller, London Review of Books *
This is a significant, original and often moving book that anyone with an interest in thinking seriously about the relationship between social-structural change, social relations and gender in early modern England would do well to read. * Hillary Taylor, Social History *
a study of impressive scope ... an exciting project, not least because it grasps the nettle of thinking about the kind of processes of macro-historical change that historians have largely shied away from in the past two decades. Shepard tackles these issues with surety, showing that thorough empirical research and attempts to outline narratives of historical change can be skilfully combined by approaches other than those focused on 'big data' - the very best historians can do this without sacrificing sensitivity to the human experiences at the centre of historical change. This hugely impressive book provides ample evidence that Shepard is indeed one of those. * Dr Mark Hailwood, Reviews in History *
This splendid book is therefore likely to prove enormously influential. Shepard has provided us with probably the most important book to be published in the social and economic history of early modern England in the past decade. It will be compulsory reading. * Andy Wood, Economic History Review *
This is a book as rich in its detail as it is original in its argumentation, and it is without question a major contribution to the social and economic history of early modern England. * Paul Slack, American Historical Review *
It is no exaggeration to state that Shepard has produced one of the most important studies of early modern English society to have been written in the last three decades. This is a wonderful book which combines statistical clout with theoretical nuance, and the bibliography alone is an invaluable resource for any early modern social or economic historian ... there is no doubt that this is a magnificent piece of scholarship with which historians interested not only in social rank, gender and age, but also in consumption and political participation, must engage. * Tim Reinke-Williams, English Historical Review *
wide-ranging, incredibly detailed and rich in historical example and complex analysis. It is a monumental achievement and certain to become a standard point of reference for many years to come. * Emma Griffin, History Today *
[A] strikingly original and informative study * Michael Mascuch, Renaissance Quarterly *
[A] compelling new study ... This important book provides an essential bottom-up view of how ordinary men and women accounted for themselves in a rapidly changing world. Painstakingly researched and carefully argued, it should be read by anyone interested in the social and economic transformations of early modern England. * Journal of Modern History *

You may also be interested in...

Making Sense of the Troubles
Added to basket
A Brief History of the Anglo-Saxons
Added to basket
The English and their History
Added to basket
The Norman Conquest
Added to basket
£9.99
Paperback
The Churchill Factor
Added to basket
£10.99   £7.99
Paperback
How to be a Victorian
Added to basket
The Hollow Crown
Added to basket
£9.99
Paperback
The English
Added to basket
£9.99
Paperback
Empire of the Deep
Added to basket
£14.99
Paperback
Please, Mister Postman
Added to basket
£8.99   £6.99
Paperback
She-Wolves
Added to basket
£10.99
Paperback
First Light
Added to basket
£9.99
Paperback
A History of Ancient Britain
Added to basket
Londoners
Added to basket
£9.99
Paperback

Reviews

Please sign in to write a review

Your review has been submitted successfully.