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Social relations in the Kentish Weald : a computer aided historical study

Bagg, Janet (1989) Social relations in the Kentish Weald : a computer aided historical study. Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) thesis, University of Kent. (doi:10.22024/UniKent/01.02.86119) (KAR id:86119)


This is an historical ethnography undertaken with the aid of computer methods. It focuses on Biddenden, a rural parish in the Weald of Kent, an area of wood-pasture fanning and of declining rural manufacture during the period of study, 1566-1660. The theme is the reproduction of social relations, in particular those of inequality. The sources employed ranged from the highly structured parish registers to narrative accounts in court records. To deal adequately with this a variety of computing methods involving both existing tools and purpose written programs were used. The computer methods have relevance beyond this specific application, to more conventional ethnographic studies. Death and marriage are examined, focusing on the fragmentation and the creation of relationships. Honour ranking is found in the Weald but, unlike southern Europe, women were evaluated more as wives than as daughters. Affinal relations were import, especially among the elite, but were not closer than those with siblings. The nature of migration to and from Biddenden is also examined and draws attention to themes rarely studied in anthropology.

The parish was controlled by a limited group consisting of wealthier adult men. This elective hegemony was able to use the evaluation of reputation within an ideology of household order to maintain its power. During the years of prosperity they displayed greater competition with one another in the context of limited social mobility. Cloth making allowed greater expansion than the land itself would permit. As decline set in there was a move from partible transmission of land to unequal forms, increased outmigration and greater social differentiation. The wealthier became more secure, while small farmers, who had relied on income from work in cloth making, faced greater uncertainty. The honour of the wealthy was decreasingly challenged by their peers, but middling people became less secure.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctor of Philosophy (PhD))
DOI/Identification number: 10.22024/UniKent/01.02.86119
Additional information: This thesis has been digitised by EThOS, the British Library digitisation service, for purposes of preservation and dissemination. It was uploaded to KAR on 09 February 2021 in order to hold its content and record within University of Kent systems. It is available Open Access using a Creative Commons Attribution, Non-commercial, No Derivatives ( licence so that the thesis and its author, can benefit from opportunities for increased readership and citation. This was done in line with University of Kent policies ( If you feel that your rights are compromised by open access to this thesis, or if you would like more information about its availability, please contact us at and we will seriously consider your claim under the terms of our Take-Down Policy (
Uncontrolled keywords: Anthropology
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GN Anthropology
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GR Folklore
A General Works > AZ History of Scholarship. The Humanities
C Auxiliary Sciences of History > CB History of civilization
D History General and Old World > D History (General)
L Education > LA History of education
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Human and Social Sciences > School of Anthropology and Conservation
SWORD Depositor: SWORD Copy
Depositing User: SWORD Copy
Date Deposited: 29 Oct 2019 16:29 UTC
Last Modified: 15 Feb 2022 11:01 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

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