Victorian Vices: Idleness and how the Victorian Poor helped themselves

Ref: C2346534

Until the later 18th century poverty was regarded largely as a misfortune – an act of Providence over which an individual had little or no control. Changing attitudes led to a reform of the Poor Laws in 1834 and a more punitive approach to the able-bodied poor, based on the principle that the situation of an individual in work should not be less favourable than one in receipt of poor relief. This lecture will consider the arguments for the reform, including the alleged vice of 'idleness', and ask how far they reflected the realities of working class poverty such as trade depressions, illness or old age. Did the harsh regime of the workhouse and the stigma that came to be attached to claiming poor relief have the intended deterrent effect; and how far did social investigators like Charles Booth challenge prevailing attitudes in the later 19th century? The lecture will also consider some examples of working class self-help, including Friendly Societies and co-operatives.

Course aim

To explain the punitive nature of the Poor law reform in 1834, assess how far the vice of 'idleness' was responsible for poverty among the Victorian labouring classes, and explore other possible causes.

Do I need any particular skills or experience?

  • This course is for beginners and improvers

By the end of the course I should be able to:

  • Identify the main arguments about the causes of poverty on which the 1834 reform of the Poor Laws was based.
  • Assess how far these reflected the realities of working class life.
  • Explain the principles on which working class 'self' help' organisations operated.
  • Know where to access additional sources for further independent study.

How will I be taught?

What kind of feedback can I expect?

What else do I need to know?

There is nothing that you need to know or to bring to the lecture.

Pre-course work, reading and information sources

What can I do next?

View full course information sheet

Victorian Vices: Idleness and how the Victorian Poor helped themselves

Conditions

As a registered charity, and to meet our funders’ requirements, we need to check a few things with you before you enrol. Please check the details below to ensure you meet the basic eligibility critiera:

  • You are paying the standard fee (with a credit or debit card) or you are on any of the qualifying benefits
  • You have a valid email address so that you can receive confirmation of your booking
  • You have been resident in the UK, EU or EEA for the last 3 years
  • You are aged 19 years or older on 1st September 2021
  • You declare that the address you provide is correct and that you will provide evidence of this and your eligibility to live and work in the UK
  • You have read and accept our standard terms and conditions

Not sure or have further questions? Contact courseenquiries@wea.org.uk

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