Power and Pauperism: The Workhouse System 1834-1884 (1993) by Felix Driver

Power and Pauperism: The Workhouse System 1834-1884 was written Felix Driver and published in 1993 by Cambridge University Press.

Although covering the enactment of the 1834 Poor Law nationally, the latter chapters concentrate on a study of the Huddersfield Poor Law Union.


Power and Pauperism aims to provide a new perspective on the place of the workhouse in the history and geography of nineteenth-century society and social policy. The workhouse system is set in the wider context in an age associated, paradoxically, with both laissez-faire and increasing state regulation. The study pays particular attention to conflicts over Poor Law policy and workhouse design. Dr. Driver demonstrates that despite appearances the workhouse system was far from monolithic, and that official policy was beset with conflict: his study combines a national perspective on the system with a sensitivity to regional variation in policy and practice. The analysis of patterns of relief regulation and institutional provision presented here provides, for the first time, a truly national picture of the workhouse system in operation. Power and Pauperism emphasises the need to link the study of social policy with wider patterns of power and the value of a geographical perspective in the study of social policy. The book as a whole offers a challenging new interpretation of the historical geography of social policy in nineteenth-century Britain.



  1. Policing society: government, discipline and social policy
  2. Social policy, liberalism and the mid-Victorian state
  3. Rational landscapes? the geography of Poor Law government
  4. Designing the workhouse system, 1834-1884
  5. Building the workhouse system, 1834-1884
  6. Classifying the poor: maps of pauper-land
  7. The politics of territory: the anti-Poor Law movement
  8. From township to Union? the geography of Poor Law administration at a local level
  9. The workhouse system from a local perspective

Power and Pauperism: The Workhouse System 1834-1884 (1993) by Felix Driver


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This page was last modified on 24 January 2017 and has been edited by Dave Pattern.

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