Paying for deservingness? Poor relief administration, entitlement and local economies in the Southern Low Countries, 1750-1830

Project Details


This project sets out to identify and explain spatial variations and temporal changes in revenues raised for the relief of the poor, conceptions of entitlement and belonging, and survival strategies in three sets of rural parishes in the Southern Low Countries in the period 1750-1830. By investigating the interconnections of these themes at local, regional and ‘national’ levels of analysis in a period of profound social, political, economic and institutional change, we aim to contribute to a renewed comparative approach to the determinants and consequences of poor relief organization in Europe’s transition from preindustrial to industrial society, in a way that radically challenges stereotypes of ‘English’ versus ‘continental’ relief practices. The exceptional quality of the source materials in combination with an empirical focus on three rural regions characterized by very distinct socio-economic structures during a gradual transition from a charity-based to a tax-funded relief system, will allow us to systematically test a number of influential hypotheses on the interconnections between poor relief administration on the one hand and agrarian change and economic growth on the other hand, in a way that takes into account the role of local contexts, shifting criteria and conceptions of entitlement, and the life cycles and survival strategies of the poor themselves.
Effective start/end date1/01/1531/12/18


  • Relief

Flemish discipline codes 2018-2023

  • Socio-economic history


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