Published online by Cambridge University Press: 27 September 2019
This concluding chapter considers the implications of insecurity for narratives of economic success and proletarianisation in eighteenth-century Britain. It argues that economic growth generated social inequality and was compatible with failure. Risk was built into the capitalist model. Credit was a tool that allowed for innovation and entrepreneurship, but it also brought people down. The assumption that periods of economic growth bring shared prosperity therefore requires revision. Furthermore, there was a much broader segment of society who were precarious in the eighteenth century than the proletariat, but they were precarious in different ways. Middling poverty was not built around their relationship to the means of production, their relationship to land tenure or their need to sell their labour. Instead, their insecurities were a result of their relationship to debt. A new vision of class formation is therefore necessary, which recognises these broader forms of insecurity.