The aim of this essay is to inquiry into the attitude towards poverty and its remedies as an emerging problem in the sphere of political economy from late eighteenth century to the mid-1830s. In doing so, it deals with two issues often considered peripheral by historians of economic thought. First, though voluntary associations have been thoroughly analysed by leading economic and social historians (Hobsbawm 1957; Gosden 1974; Gorsky 1998; Ismay 2018), the economic arguments underpinning their establishment and diffusion have received scanty attention by professional historians of economic thought (Cowherd 1977; Henderson 1997; Gerke 2020). Second, by putting into perspective an array of statements eulogising self-betterment and self-help, this essay helps identify interesting connections between economic theorising and social policy and offers a broader perspective of the historical and cultural context leading to the 1834 round of reforms.
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