The Economic Factor That Influenced Vagrancy Laws Essay

The Economic Factor That Influenced Vagrancy Laws Essay

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Slack included something in 1988 that Beier neglected three years prior, the parochial economic factor that influenced vagrancy laws. The economic factor was central to the issue, something that Beier had ignored and that Slack demonstrated well. He argued that parishes were agents of the central government. Parishes were indeed responsible for administering the poor law, but Slack’s argument showed a much more complicated political relationship than was typical. Slack’s through examination of the parish system is what sets his text apart from Beier’s. The strained relationship between the parishes and the central government displayed in Poverty and Policy added another dimension to the social history of the Old Poor Law.
Both social historians, Slack and Beier came to similar conclusions about the poor laws in general. They both agreed that the poor laws alleviated poverty. However, Beier did take a more negative view of the treatment of paupers than Slack did. Hints of negativity about the state in general were scattered throughout Beier’s text more than they were in Slack’s. Regardless of moral differences, Slack and Beier demonstrated that social history was a more effective way of studying vagrancy than the methods of historians prior to the 1980s.
However, other work within the field has shown that economic history does offer insight into the vagrancy laws as well. Peter Solar has argued that poor relief played a part in the economic development of the entire country during the seventeenth century. In the article, he stated that the parishes were a key part of studying the poor laws. Tudor legislation arose from experimentation with poor relief on the local level, making the study of local arenas such as the...

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... but historians had not made an attempt to understand the two processes together. Munkhoff argued that plague management and poor relief were both managed from within the parish and that one could not be understood without the other. She placed the role of women into the context of the parish and studied their roles as ‘keepers,’ nurses that cared for others, and as ‘searchers’ who looked for causes of the health problems that England faced. Munkhoff argued that the connections between poor relief and the plague had profound implications for the exploration of women and poor relief in early modern England. Women were not simply receiving aid but they also were not coerced into providing care. Munkhoff suggested that historians should work to present a better understanding of the complex network of public health that included poor women as medical agents.

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