The business of everyday life

Gender, practice and social politics in England, c.1600–1900

By Beverly Lemire

The business of everyday life

Book Information

  • Format: Paperback
  • ISBN: 978-0-7190-7223-9
  • Pages: 272
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £16.99
  • Published Date: January 2012
  • BIC Category: History, Social & cultural history, Gender studies, gender groups, HISTORY / Europe / Great Britain / Victorian Era (1837-1901), HISTORY / Europe / Great Britain / Stuart Era (1603-1714), HISTORY / Europe / Great Britain / Georgian Era (1714-1837), SOCIAL SCIENCE / Gender Studies, HISTORY / Social History, Society & social sciences / Gender studies, gender groups, Humanities / Social & cultural history
  • Series: Gender in History


From 1600 to 1900 a growing consumerism fired the English economy, shaping the priorities of individuals, and determining the allocation of resources within families.

Everyday business might mean making a trip to the pawnbroker, giving a loan to a trusted friend of selling off a coat, all to make ends meet. Both women and men engaged in this daily budgeting, but women's roles were especially important in achieving some level of comfort and avoiding penury. In some communities, the daily practices in place in the seventeenth century persisted into the twentieth, whilst other groups adopted new ways, such as using numbers to chart domestic affairs and turning to the savings banks that appeared in the nineteenth century.

In the material world of the past and in the changing habits of earlier generations lie crucial turning points. This book explores these previously under-researched patterns and practices that gave shape to modern consumer society.


'Professor Beverly Lemire has provided a well-argued, solidly researched, and clearly written interpretation of the English material world from pre-industrial to industrial times. This highly accessible study merits close scrutiny by economic and social historians as well as as general readers.'
Michael J. Galgano, James Madison University (Canadian Journal of History)

'Lemire's contribution to. so-called marginal and economic activities, already significant, is further enhanced by this welcome monograph. [an] imaginatively researched study. Lemire has produced an exemplary gender business history'
Katrina Honeyman, University of Leeds (Business History)

'Lemire's discussion of fashion, saving, and accounting is excellent, and the book captures practices that are central to historians' understanding of western culture, but seldom explored in such an engaging way.'
Robin Ganev, University of Regina (Labour/Le Travail)
Labour/Le Travail


1. Introduction: everyday practice and plebeian affairs
2. Gender, the informal economy and the development of capitalism in England, 1650-1850; or, credit among the common people
3. Credit for the poor and the failed experiment of the charitable corporation, c. 1700-50
4. Shifting currency: the practice and economy of the secondhand trade, c. 1600-1850
5. Refashioning society: expressions of popular consumerism and dress, c. 1660-1820
6. Savings culture, provident consumerism and the advent of modern consumer society, c. 1780-1900
7. Accounting for the household: gender and the culture of household management, c. 1600-1900
8. Conclusion


Beverly Lemire is Professor of History and Henry Marshall Tory Chair at the University of Alberta, Canada.

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