Call for Papers: Rural History 2017 Panel - Exploring social change through income, wealth and consumption data

RHN 8/2017 | Call

Organisers: Gérard Béaur, L'École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales, Paris, France and Rosa Congost, University of Girona, Spain

11-14 September 2017, Leuven, Belgium

Deadline for submissions: 25 January 2017

Panel at the Rural History 2017 Conference
Exploring social change through income, wealth and consumption data

For several years now, discussions about living standards and social inequalities, and more recently the debate on the industrious revolution in European societies, have revealed the need to rethink the working methodology in social history studies, especially with regard to rural areas. First, we have recognized the need to consider not just wages as indicators of working class living standards, as was the case for a long time, but also other forms of income, which we need to analyse together, and which often force us to revise and reinterpret the available series of wages. Secondly, this line of revision and reinterpretation has created the need to consider households as units of observation to study the composition of the different types of income that could have affected different family economies. Thirdly, the analysis of consumption and wealth levels through probate inventories presents some important problems of representativeness regarding workers and humble social groups. Therefore, it is required to measure accurately the social biases of probate inventories and their regional differences, as well as the possibilities of complementing this source with other types of data. Rethinking the methodology of analysis as suggested would allow to detect processes of change and social dynamics that may have gone unnoticed until now.

At this moment, the organizers assure the presence of Spanish and French papers, but they invite researchers from other European regions who work on social changes processes from late medieval times to XIX century to participate in this session. The papers should be based on the following lines of enquiry:

  1. the way in which the diversity of wages rates creates opportunities that, if sustained over time, promote enrichment or accumulation among rural workers;
  2. the impact of different ways of obtaining income - and accumulating wealth - on social dynamics and processes of social differentiation;
  3. the use of data on consumption, obtained from inventories, to detect social changes.

Contact: Gérard Béaur ( and Rosa Congost (