Words into Practice

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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This chapter shows how in their writing and speech middling‐sort men gave meaning to their actions using the language of ‘oeconomy’. The chapter argues that men lived oeconomically, as well as wrote about living oeconomically. Men used the word and the concept to judge the actions of themselves and other men. The chapter also shows that men of the middling‐sort were involved in the household at different levels, but particularly at the macro level. A close analysis of men's manuscripts, particularly their accounts, reveals that men managed the resources of the household economy — economic and otherwise — at a global level. Moreover, men's engagements with many aspects of family life were shaped through these accounting practices, suggesting that men did indeed view the house as an oeconomical unit. Carefully written and copied over many hours, these manuscripts express the cultural authority of men's domestic management.

Keywords: accounting; consumption; literacy; numeracy; management; dreams; discourse

Chapter.  19028 words.  Illustrated.

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

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