A ‘Polite and Commercial People’? Masculinity and Economic Violence in Scotland, 1700–60

Tawny Paul

in Nine Centuries of Man

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print February 2017 | ISBN: 9781474403894
Published online September 2017 | e-ISBN: 9781474430951 | DOI:
A ‘Polite and Commercial People’? Masculinity and Economic Violence in Scotland, 1700–60

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Classical economic theory suggests that commerce played a central role in the growth of politeness and the decline of violence. This chapter complicates commerce’s role in the civilising process by exploring economic violence in eighteenth century Scotland. Economic violence is defined as constituting a range of physical and non-physical violent acts carried out against persons and property, and economic actions interpreted as forms of violence. Drawing examples from legal records and the debtors’ prison, it considers the intersections between masculinity, economy and interpersonal violence, structured particularly around notions of honour. It argues that violence played a functional role within eighteenth-century Scottish commerce, where it supported claims to masculine gender identity. Violence was not only the property of the crowd, used to defend customary rights, but was deployed by a range of different men, including the commercial middling sorts.

Keywords: violence; politeness; civilising process; commerce; honour; middling sorts; masculinity; Scotland

Chapter.  8056 words. 

Subjects: Gender and Sexuality

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