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  • Print publication year: 2019
  • Online publication date: September 2019



After surveying the existing historiography on credit, the social order and economic culture, this chapter proposes a new approach to the economic and social history of eighteenth-century Britain. It argues for the centrality of insecurity in its economic, social and corporeal forms to understanding the lives of individuals. It addresses especially the insecurities of the middling sorts, whose lives were intimately tied to processes of commercialisation. The chapter introduces the debtors’ prisons, which generated the records upon which the rest of the book is based.