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Durham e-Theses
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The Social Production of Gentility and Capital in Early Modern England: The Newtons of Lincolnshire.

NEWTON, RUSSELL,SCOTT,HENRY (2017) The Social Production of Gentility and Capital in Early Modern England: The Newtons of Lincolnshire. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

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This thesis has two principal aims; first, to examine and illuminate the social production of gentility and capital which was experienced by the Newton family between the early part of the seventeenth century and c.1743. Secondly, to ask larger questions about the social production of identity and capital in this period. The approach to these aims has been to blend the conceptual paradigms offered by complexity, post-structuralism and social constructionism in a new way, applying that new interpretive scheme principally to the letter-books of the family between c.1660 and c.1743. Previous gentry and social mobility studies have been governed by philosophical and linguistic tenets which have been radically challenged in the last few decades by post-structuralism, social constructionism and complexity. This thesis begins with the proposition that English society was a complex social network in a wider complex adaptive system. At the micro-level all social individuals had certain inseparable imperatives which follow from the pre-conditions for socialised human beings to form a complex adaptive system, and were expressed as five imperatives. These imperatives, expressed in everyday iterated exchanges in a social network, articulated inert resources into capital in the form of real estate, currency and credit - physically, discursively and reflexively. Gentry identity was likewise a recursive social production, which articulated a neutral social individual into a gentleman, esquire, or baronet. The same repeated social processes produced a tenant, almsmen and women, rector, burgess and spouse. The gaps, dynamic chains of substitutions, and variation (which characterised the complex material space and the social network) made these productions broadly stable, but also contingent, contested and uncertain. Capital and identities were flows rather than things; they were economies, characterised as a flux of valencies in a state of unstable equilibrium. The economic and status mobility demonstrated by the Newton family in the period was made possible because capital and identity were these economies.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:Gentry; gentility; capital; real estate; land holding; currency; credit; elections; politics; almshouses; tenants; stewards; clergy; post-structuralism; complexity; early modern; Lincolnshire.
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Arts and Humanities > History, Department of
Thesis Date:2017
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:09 May 2017 15:13

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