Karen Harvey

in The Little Republic

Published in print April 2012 | ISBN: 9780199533848
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191740978 | DOI:

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  • Modern History (1700 to 1945)
  • Social and Cultural History


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Why do we know so little about men's engagements with the domestic environment in eighteenth‐century Britain? This chapter examines two well‐established historiographical narratives which have obscured the activities of men in the eighteenth‐century house: the first charting changes in domestic patriarchy modelled on the eclipse of political patriarchalism by new types of family relationship rooted in contract theory, and the second describing the emergence of a new kind of domestic interior: a ‘home’ infused with a new culture of ‘domesticity’ primarily associated with women and femininity. The chapter argues for reinstituting a focus on patriarchy in practice — on the small acts of household authority that men performed in the domestic environment — and for the use of the contemporary concept of ‘house’ to understand the eighteenth‐century domestic environment. This chapter introduces the sources and the cultural history approach used throughout the book, and introduces the concept of ‘oeconomy’.

Keywords: approach; cultural history; historiography; methodology; sources; house; domestic patriarchy; oeconomy

Chapter.  12420 words. 

Subjects: Modern History (1700 to 1945) ; Social and Cultural History

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