Agrarian Capitalism and Poor Relief in England, 1500-1860 examines the evolution of public assistance for the poor in England from the late medieval era to the Industrial Revolution. Placing poor relief in the context of the unprecedented class relations of agrarian capitalism and the rise of a unique non-absolutist state, it accounts for why relief in England was distinct, with comparisons made to Scotland, Ireland, France and Germany. The author argues that poor relief was a substitute for access to land and common rights, a virtual exchange of money as compensation for the creation of absolute private property. In a work both challenging and provocative, Larry Patriquin makes a case for a class-based reinterpretation of the origins of the welfare state. Clearly written and well organized, this new explanation of the 'great transformation' will contribute to debates in British history, Marxism, social welfare, historiography, theories of the state, and the transition to capitalism.

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