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Chapter 3 - Social Structures of Insecurity

from Part I - Structures of Insecurity

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  27 September 2019

Tawny Paul
Affiliation:
University of California, Los Angeles
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Summary

Financial structures were not the only reason for middling insecurity. Imprisonment was also social and circumstantial. It was the result of decisions made by creditors, based upon perceptions of a debtor’s credibility and reputation. Chapter 3 turns to the perspectives of creditors. The positions and reasoning of those who used the prison as a tool are crucial to understanding insecurity. The chapter considers why creditors chose to send their debtors to prison and how it was in their interests to do so. Imprisonment depended upon how economic failure was perceived, as well as upon creditors’ entangled financial, social and emotional positions. While imprisonment could provide a useful tool for enforcing contracts within an economy that offered little protection to those who lent money, the importance of emotion and social perceptions of failure tempers the weight that we afford to ‘rational’ decision-making within the modernising economy. Like credit, debt was understood as part of a moral economy.

Type
Chapter
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The Poverty of Disaster
Debt and Insecurity in Eighteenth-Century Britain
, pp. 95 - 134
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2019

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  • Social Structures of Insecurity
  • Tawny Paul, University of California, Los Angeles
  • Book: The Poverty of Disaster
  • Online publication: 27 September 2019
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108690546.004
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  • Social Structures of Insecurity
  • Tawny Paul, University of California, Los Angeles
  • Book: The Poverty of Disaster
  • Online publication: 27 September 2019
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108690546.004
Available formats
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Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

  • Social Structures of Insecurity
  • Tawny Paul, University of California, Los Angeles
  • Book: The Poverty of Disaster
  • Online publication: 27 September 2019
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108690546.004
Available formats
×