Poverty amidst Prosperity

The urban poor in England, 1834–1914

Carl Chinn

Poverty amidst Prosperity is the ideal introduction to those seeking to understand poverty from the grassroots. Its wide range of evidence, clear analysis and strong argument stress the importance of communities and give a voice to those whom traditional history has marginalized
Date Published :
November 2014
Publisher :
Carnegie Publishing
Format Available    QuantityPrice
Binding : Paperback
ISBN : 9781859361269

Stock Status : In stock


The upper and middle classes of Victorian England were marked out by their confidence: they boasted that the sun never set on their Empire; they believed they were destined to lead other nations; and they bragged that their civilization was pre-eminent. Their self-belief was assured because they lived in a country that had become rich through industrialization. But amidst great prosperity there was also much poverty. Deprivation and distress were widespread and obvious. In towns and cities, grand public and civic buildings were surrounded by poor dwellings later known as ‘slums’. The poor crowded into these insanitary districts; they rented badly built dwellings with inadequate facilities; they did the dirtiest, hardest and most dangerous jobs; they ate the worst food; they suffered ill health and early deaths. Poverty blighted their lives. Many observers asserted that many of the poor were thriftless and feckless. They stated that the muckiness of the poor districts was caused by dirty people who did not wish to raise themselves out of the mire. Gradually, however, social investigators began to question these scathing generalizations, arguing that poverty was usually the result of economic conditions over which individuals and families had little or no control. This book is infused with a sense of social justice and is deeply affected by Carl Chinn’s own background. The families of both his mother and father come from tough working-class streets in Birmingham which were marked out by their ties of kinship and neighborliness as much as by their bad housing and inadequate sanitation.

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