Chapter

The Language of Oeconomy

Karen Harvey

in The Little Republic

Published in print April 2012 | ISBN: 9780199533848
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191740978 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199533848.003.0002

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  • Modern History (1700 to 1945)
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This chapter explore the concepts which shaped contemporaries’ understanding of men's relationship with the house and household. Focusing on printed works, it establishes the discourse of ‘oeconomy’ as the key to understanding men's (and women's) engagements with the domestic in the eighteenth century. The chapter shows that a language of strict order and deference dominated during the long eighteenth century, created from a fusion of older patriarchalism and classical republican theories of household. The content and audience of this discourse did change, however. Becoming a language of the smaller householder rather than the large landowner in the early 1700s, before shifting focus from the 1770s from estate management and political governance to citizenship for the middling‐sort, ‘oeconomy’ subsequently became a potent expression of political engagement that emphasized frugality and honest virtue in a national community. Throughout, the house remained closely connected to the economy and polity.

Keywords: oeconomy; patriarchalism; civic republicanism; separate spheres; public; private; political economy; print

Chapter.  19768 words.  Illustrated.

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

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