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Parenting in England 1760-1830Emotion, Identity, and Generation$
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Joanne Bailey

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199565191

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199565191.001.0001

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Parenthood and Public Identity: Symbolic Parents

Parenthood and Public Identity: Symbolic Parents

(p.101) 4 Parenthood and Public Identity: Symbolic Parents
Parenting in England 1760-1830

Joanne Bailey

Oxford University Press

This chapter discusses the ways in which parenthood was central to a number of Georgian societal and national concerns, such as population, consumption, and poverty. Commentators invoked parenthood as a means to ensure a strong, healthy nation and to produce a patriotic and stable society. Healthy parental bodies produced healthy children and morals were central to explanations for lack of health: worldly women and dissolute men produced unhealthy children or were sterile. Worldliness threatened morals, public spirit and masculinity, especially in times of national crisis. Fatherhood was a central metaphor for patriotism, political, and social stability. This was the case with representations of military men as fathers. The idealised rural labouring family also symbolised a stable social and gender order, and stimulated feeling and patriotism. Religion and charity were other key discourses by which parents were used to promote ideal social relationships, particularly those of nursing fathers and familial benevolence.

Keywords:   parents, parenthood, fatherhood, nation, society, religion, charity, patriotism, masculinity, benevolence

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