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Inferior Politics explores how social policy was created in Britain in a period when central government was not active in making it. Parliament proved capable of generating national legislation nonetheless-and provided a forum for debate even when it was impossible to mobilise consensus behind any particular plan. In this setting, there was a lively, and surprisingly inclusive, 'politics' of social policy-making, in which 'inferior' officers of government (what we might call 'local authorities') figured prominently. The book explores institutional structures which shaped these debates and their outcomes, and supplies several case studies of policy-making: one focussing on some of the less well-known activities of William Wilberforce, as he attempted to promote a national 'reformation of manners'; others featuring such apparently marginal figures as imprisoned debtors and a lowly (and bigoted) London constable. A central chapter explores the history of social and economic empirical enquiry from the invention of 'political arithmetic' in the later seventeenth century through to the first census of 1801, detailing similar interaction between government and private enthusiasts. Drawing together three decades of the author's work, including two new essays, Inferior Politics demonstrates how Joanna Innes has significantly revised and extended our understanding of the ways and means of British domestic government, in an era marked by institutional continuity but continuing and vigorously debated social challenges.
About the Author
Joanna Innes was born in London in 1954 and educated in England and the United States. She studied history at Cambridge, and has been a fellow and tutor at Somerville College Oxford since 1982. She was for ten years, 1990-2000, co-editor of the journal Past and Present. She has contributed to the revitalisation of eighteenth-century British history, now widely recognised as a lively and innovative field of study. She is now pursuing her interests in the development of British social policy into the early nineteenth century.
Table of Contents
Parliament and the Shaping of Eighteenth-Century English Social Policy
The Domestic Face of the Military-Fiscal State: State and Society in Eighteenth-Century Britain
The Local Acts of a National Parliament: Parliament's Role in Sanctioning Local Action in Eighteenth-Century Britain
Power and Happiness: Empirical Social Enquiry from Political Arithmetic to Moral Statistics
Politics and Morals: the Reformation of Manners Movement in Later Eighteenth-Century England
The King's Bench Prison in the Later Eighteenth Century: Law, Authority and Order in a London Debtors' Prison
The Protestant Carpenter: William Payne of Bell Yard (c. 1718-1782). The Life and Times of a London Informing Constable