Chapter

‘Virtue’ and the poor law in Britain and Ireland in the 1830s

John Offer

in An intellectual history of British social policy

Published by Policy Press

Published in print January 2006 | ISBN: 9781861345318
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781447301455 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1332/policypress/9781861345318.003.0002
‘Virtue’ and the poor law in Britain and Ireland in the 1830s

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This chapter presents an examination of social theory about the poor law in Britain and Ireland in the 1830s. It addresses the prominence Peter Mandler has accorded to the ideas of the ‘Noetics’ in shaping poor law reform in England in the 1830s and the conflict in events heralding the introduction of a poor law to Ireland in 1838, conflict often overlooked but revealing about the foundations of reform in England. The ideological points of dispute over Ireland among the Noetics help to display the English poor law reform in the full context of Noetic concerns of the day. The review of the decisive Noetic and liberal Tory emphasis on virtue, not utility, has also clarified Victorian poor law thought on agency.

Keywords: social theory; poor law; Britain; Ireland; Peter Mandler; Noetics; reform

Chapter.  7180 words. 

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