Siblinghood and social relations in Georgian England

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Author: Amy Harris

Since spousal and child-parent relationships have undergone enormous changes, they are subject to weighty legal and religious control, and exert a powerful influence on people's cultural imagination. The emphasis on marriage and parents and children has generated a rich and deep historiography. This book outlines the contours of Georgian siblinghood to understand its specific advantages and disadvantages because it was in this period that lived siblinghood began to lose the public recognition of its meaning and function while fictive siblinghood increased its abstract reach. It suggests that couples and parents had other important and demanding family relations, relations they had to negotiate and combine with spousal and parental duties. In particular, it draws attention to the sibling relationships that supported, supplemented, and even supplanted marital and parental relations. The book considers siblings as children and how they learned the role of sibling in both familial and social settings. Parental advice literature and parents' own accounts demonstrate that mothers and fathers were expected to teach morals and class- and gender-specific behaviour and to treat their children fairly. The book explores injunctions about friendship, affection, and love between siblings, revealing that that for siblings, love, affection, and friendship meant ideas of unity, solidarity, and unwavering support. Discussing sibling economics, the book focuses on the familial, material, social, and financial work done by siblings, particularly within and between households. Shifting attention to sibling relations reveals the essential labour of and contribution of siblings to early modern family economics and politics.

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