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The Politics of HungerProtest, Poverty and Policy in England, c. 1750-c. 1840$
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Carl J. Griffin

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781526145628

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: September 2020

DOI: 10.7765/9781526145635

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PRINTED FROM MANCHESTER SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.manchester.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Manchester University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in MSO for personal use.date: 18 September 2021

Dietaries and the less eligibility workhouse: or, the making of the poor as biological subjects

Dietaries and the less eligibility workhouse: or, the making of the poor as biological subjects

(p.130) 4 Dietaries and the less eligibility workhouse: or, the making of the poor as biological subjects
The Politics of Hunger

Carl J. Griffin

Manchester University Press

Notoriously, the Poor Law Amendment Act of 1834 moved beyond monetary relief to establish precise dietaries for the poor ‘relieved’ in union workhouses, out relief now something only to be given in absolute emergencies. By dictating what the poor ate, as opposed to what they might eat, workhouse dietaries established an absolute biological minimum for bodily survival decided by individual poor law unions within perimeters set by the central state through the Poor Law Commission. While the implications of workhouse dietaries have been subject to careful study, this chapter takes a broader perspective. It examines the makings of the idea of the dietary, analysing debates and discussion concerning both the physiological and practical science of pauper diet, as well as earlier examining antecedent, before going on to explore the implementation of workhouse dietaries in the new centrally-controlled but still locally operated system What emerges is a highly uneven system, patterned by varying ideological, practical, economic and political imperatives. The chapter also analyses the critiques of the system, exploring both the centrality of critiques to the politicking of radical politicians and to the rise of a particular type of humanitarianism, a concern with the bodily welfare of the poor.

Keywords:   New Poor Law, Workhouse, Dietary, Scandal, Poor Law Commission, Starvation, Humanitarianism

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