The village community and the nature of peasant society in medieval England
in Peasants and historians
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This chapter considers the ways in which discussion of certain important aspects of peasant society in medieval England, for instance the transfer of land, are sometimes examined by historians as explicable in terms of their significance for society and community. It identifies four main historical approaches which, with differing motives, have explored the nature, and changing nature, of the medieval village community and the durability of the bonds which sustained it. These are institutionalists, social structuralists, Marxists, and individualists. Institutionalists are those historians, such as Helen M. Cam, who have emphasised the importance of legal and quasi-legal structures in defining the village community. Social structuralists have tended to define the village community according to the activities of its constituents, and especially in terms of co-operation. Individualists, an approach associated with Alan Macfarlane but one that also admits a nuanced discussion of individual enterprise and entrepreneurship.

Peasants and historians

Debating the medieval English peasantry


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