The evangelicals' ambition of 'moralizing' the poor coincided with Malthus's
fear that relief in aid of wages was undermining self-sufficiency: reform of the
poor law in order to deter fecklessness was associated with the regeneration of
the character of the poor through education, rational recreation, and thrift.
Voluntary organizations formed an essential element in the response to social
change in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, a crucial feature in
the attempt of the middle class to stabilize an increasingly urban and industrial
society which involved a major shift in the nature of social order and the state.
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G. W. Oxley, "'The Permanent Poor in South-west Lancashire under the Old Poor
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