Family and Household
For countless men and women in the early modern city, work not only provided some measure of economic security, but also helped to define their place in the system of social relations. Yet in the struggle to survive and prosper, family relations were equally important. It is the family, after all, that sustains a child before he or she can begin to work -- and in many cases for long after that. And even more so than today, in early modern times the family was a major determinant of what kind of work people did and what social status they were perceived to possess.
But what exactly was the family in early modern Europe? Who belonged to it? How did its members interact? And what was the relationship between the family and that other great institution of social and economic life, the household? These questions have deeply perplexed modern historians. We are a long way from any final answers -- but the general outlines are clear.1
In a society in which so much productive work was done in the household, the relationship between work roles and family roles was often very close. The master craftsman, for example, was simultaneously the head of a productive enterprise and of a family unit. Many historians have emphasized the central role of the household in early modern life, seeing its head as a powerful master and father whose authority extended with equal rigour over all its____________________
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Publication information: Book title: The Early Modern City, 1450-1750. Contributors: Christopher R. Friedrichs - Author. Publisher: Longman. Place of publication: London. Publication year: 1995. Page number: 166.
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