Undergraduates in Iniquity: Views of the Commons and the Poor in Reports of the Board of Agriculture in Britain

UNCA Author/Contributor (non-UNCA co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Chelsea Beresford, Student (Creator)
University of North Carolina Asheville (UNCA )
Web Site: http://library.unca.edu/
Tracey Rizzo

Abstract: In late eighteenth century and the early nineteenth century in Britain, the Parliamentary Enclosure movement privatized the commons of the open field system. Members of Parliament saw the villagers’ right to the commons –unworked pieces of land shared equally - as a crutch for the idle who were too lazy to take on wage labor. Reports to the Board of Agriculture describe an ‘unruly independence and slothful behavior’ in villagers who supplement their income by gathering from the commons. These reports recommend enclosing the commons, forcing the poor to embrace waged labor, to cure their immorality. This paper argues that the societal views of poverty brought on by the new Protestant Ethic motivated commons enclosure. The enclosure of common land set the stage for the Age of Privatization.

Additional Information

UNC Asheville - Journal of Undergraduate Research
Language: English
Date: 2014
Great Britain, Parliamentary Enclosure, commons

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