Matteo Pompermaier (Lund Univ.), Oscar Gelderblom and Nelleke Tanis (Antwerp Univ.)
Venue: Antwerp University
Proposals by: 10.05.2023
The workshop asks a very simple empirical question: how did households in the past organize their finances? How did people pay for food, clothing and housing? What did more affluent households do with the money they earned beyond what was needed for primary consumption? And for households living on the edge of subsistence: could they complement financial support from within their social networks with public welfare, private insurance, or more or less costly forms of credit?
In recent decades we have seen major changes in the related field of historical business finance. Moving beyond an earlier generation of studies that traced the origins of modern financial institutions back to early modern forms in England, the Low Countries, or Italy, there is now a growing financial history literature that documents the persistence of ‘premodern’ financial institutions into the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. This has greatly enhanced our understanding of the multiple ways in which specific financial demands can be met (Van Bochove et al. 2021).
No such shift has occurred in the study of historical household finance. For the early modern period the dominant idea remains that people’s financial behaviour is always firmly embedded in their social networks, while students of the modern world are mainly interested in the rise of the welfare state and the expansion of consumer credit (Muldrew 1998; O’Connell 2009; Dermineur 2018). This is the first challenge for social and financial historians: bridge the gap between early modern and modern approaches to the organization of household finance. Read more … (PDF)