In this innovative study, Sarah Tarlow shows how the archaeology of this period manifests a widespread and cross-cutting ethic of improvement, one of the most current concepts of eighteenth and nineteenth century Britain. Theoretically informed and drawn from primary and secondary sources in a range of disciplines, the author considers agriculture and the rural environment, towns, and buildings such as working-class housing and institutions of reform. From bleach baths to window glass, rubbish pits to tea wares, the material culture of the period reflects a particular set of values and aspirations. Tarlow examines the philosophical and historical background to the notion of improvement and demonstrates how this concept is a useful lens through which to examine the material culture of later historical Britain.

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