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The way to wealth, health and happiness: The significance of frugality in the British printed culture of the long eighteenth century

Burnett, Nicole 2022. The way to wealth, health and happiness: The significance of frugality in the British printed culture of the long eighteenth century. MPhil Thesis, Cardiff University.
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This thesis examines the written works of individuals who championed frugality during a period more associated with the emergence of a new consumer society. It will reveal the relevance of their writings and how they aimed to impact the social, economic and personal wellbeing of those who lived during the long eighteenth century. By concentrating on the luxury debate, existing studies have marginalized writings on frugality; often interpreting them as the ramblings of pious naysayers who fought desperately against the negative influences of luxury and the rising tide of consumerism and immoral behaviour. However, by focusing on the relationships between frugality, class and consumption, it becomes clear that frugality was more than a reaction and was instead viewed as a vital source of social stability, as well as a catalyst for economic growth. An analysis of frugality reveals how frugal doctrines were adapted and adopted according to the social class of the reader. For the gentry and middling sorts, frugality was framed as a way to maintain and ideally improve their personal finances, health and social position. For the poor, frugality was preached as a way of shifting the blame for their suffering away from the state and towards their own mismanagement of resources. The social interplay between frugality and luxury was an important component of national economic growth and social balance. However, frugality was heavily nuanced: acting not only as the ideological balance between luxury and avarice but also as a methodological tool for economic growth; an indicator of respectability; a spur for self-reliance; a regimen for good health and as a moderator of social emulation. In essence, this thesis shows that frugality was a significant factor in the social and economic development of the long eighteenth century and that it is worthy of study in its own right and not just as the antithesis of luxury.

Item Type: Thesis (MPhil)
Date Type: Completion
Status: Unpublished
Schools: History, Archaeology and Religion
Subjects: D History General and Old World > D History (General)
D History General and Old World > D History (General) > D204 Modern History
D History General and Old World > DA Great Britain
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 28 March 2022
Date of Acceptance: 3 March 2022
Last Modified: 28 Mar 2023 01:30

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