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A Bitter Living: Women, Markets, and Social Capital in Early Modern Germany

Author

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  • Ogilvie, Sheilagh

    (Reader in Economic History, University of Cambridge)

Abstract

What role did women play in the pre-industrial European economy? Was it brought about by biology, culture, social institutions, or individual choices? And what were its consequences - for women, for men, for society at large? Women were key to the changes in the European economy between 1600 and 1800 that paved the way for industrialization. But we still know little about this female 'shadow economy' - and nothing quantitative or systematic. This book tackles these questions in a new way. It uses a unique micro-level database and rich qualitative sources to illuminate women's contribution to a particular pre-industrial economy: the German state of Wurttemberg, which was in many ways typical of early modern Europe. Markets expanded here between 1600 and 1800, opening opportunities outside the household for both women and men. But they were circumscribed by strong 'social networks' - local communities and rural guilds with state support. Modern political scientists have praised social networks for generating 'social capital' - shared norms and collective sanctions which benefit network insiders, and sometimes the whole society. But this book reveals the dark side of 'social capital': insiders excluded and harmed outsiders, especially women, to the detriment of the economy at large. Early modern European economies differed widely in their restrictions on the role of women. But the monocausal approaches (technological, cultural, institutional) that dominate the existing literature cannot explain these differences. This book proposes an alternative approach driven by the decision individual women themselves made as they negotiated a wide array of constraints and pressures (including technological, cultural, and institutional ones). We are not only brought closer to the 'bitter living' pre-industrial women scraped together , but find out how it came to be so bitter, and how restrictions on women inflicted a bitter living on everyone.

Suggested Citation

  • Ogilvie, Sheilagh, 2003. "A Bitter Living: Women, Markets, and Social Capital in Early Modern Germany," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198205548.
  • Handle: RePEc:oxp:obooks:9780198205548
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Gordon,Robert J., 2004. "Productivity Growth, Inflation, and Unemployment," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521531429, December.
    2. Dale W. Jorgenson, 2001. "Information Technology and the U.S. Economy," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, pages 1-32.
    3. Gordon,Robert J., 2004. "Productivity Growth, Inflation, and Unemployment," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521800082, December.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Sofie De Langhe & Isabelle Devos & Christa Matthys, 2013. "Survival strategies of single women in the Bruges countryside, 1814," EED-Working Papers 6, EED research unit, department of History, Ghent University.
    2. John Meadowcroft & Mark Pennington, 2008. "Bonding and bridging: Social capital and the communitarian critique of liberal markets," The Review of Austrian Economics, Springer;Society for the Development of Austrian Economics, vol. 21(2), pages 119-133, September.
    3. Sheilagh Ogilvie & Markus Küpker, 2015. "Human Capital Investment in a Late-Developing Economy: Evidence from Württemberg, c. 1600 – c. 1900," Cambridge Working Papers in Economics 1528, Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge.
    4. Timothy W. Guinnane & Sheilagh C. Ogilvie, 2013. "A Two-Tiered Demographic System: "Insiders" and "Outsiders" in Three Swabian Communities, 1558-1914," Working Papers 1021, Economic Growth Center, Yale University.
    5. Ville, Simon, 2004. "Social Capital: An Insight Revealed or a Concept Too Many?," Economics Working Papers wp04-05, School of Economics, University of Wollongong, NSW, Australia.
    6. Ogilvie, S. & Edwards, J. & Küpker, M., 2016. "Economically Relevant Human Capital or Multi-Purpose Consumption Good? Book Ownership in Pre-Modern Württemberg," Cambridge Working Papers in Economics 1655, Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge.
    7. Dennison, Tracy & Ogilvie, Sheilagh, 2014. "Does the European Marriage Pattern Explain Economic Growth?," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 74(03), pages 651-693, September.
    8. Sheilagh Ogilvie, 2014. "The Economics of Guilds," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, pages 169-192.
    9. Dessi, Roberta & Ogilvie, Sheilagh, 2003. "Social Capital and Collusion : The Case of Merchant Guilds," IDEI Working Papers 214, Institut d'Économie Industrielle (IDEI), Toulouse.
    10. Alexander Klein & Sheilagh Ogilvie, 2016. "Occupational structure in the Czech lands under the second serfdom," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 69(2), pages 493-521, May.
    11. Dessi, Roberta & Ogilvie, Sheilagh, 2004. "The Political Economy of Merchant Guilds: Commitment or Collusion ?," IDEI Working Papers 278, Institut d'Économie Industrielle (IDEI), Toulouse.
    12. James Fenske, 2012. "Land abundance and economic institutions: Egba land and slavery, 1830–1914," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, pages 527-555.
    13. Matteo Di Tullio, 2014. "Cooperating against inequality? War and commons in Renaissance Lombardy," Working Papers 069, "Carlo F. Dondena" Centre for Research on Social Dynamics (DONDENA), Università Commerciale Luigi Bocconi.
    14. van den Heuvel, Danielle & Ogilvie, Sheilagh, 2013. "Retail development in the consumer revolution: The Netherlands, c. 1670–c. 1815," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 50(1), pages 69-87.
    15. Timothy Guinnane & Sheilagh Ogilvie, 2008. "Institutions and Demographic Responses to Shocks: Württemberg, 1634-1870," Working Papers 962, Economic Growth Center, Yale University.
    16. Jan Luiten van Zanden, 2011. "The Malthusian Intermezzo - Women’s wages and human capital formation between the Late Middle Ages and the Demographic Transition of the 19th century," Working Papers 0014, Utrecht University, Centre for Global Economic History.
    17. Ogilvie, Sheilagh & Carus, A.W., 2014. "Institutions and Economic Growth in Historical Perspective," Handbook of Economic Growth,in: Handbook of Economic Growth, edition 1, volume 2, chapter 8, pages 403-513 Elsevier.

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