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The rich and the poor: Jewish philanthropy and social control in nineteenth century London

Rozin, Mordechai (1996) The rich and the poor: Jewish philanthropy and social control in nineteenth century London. Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) thesis, University of Kent. (doi:10.22024/UniKent/01.02.94625) (KAR id:94625)

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The purpose of this historical research is to discover new facts by tracing the development of the theory, practice and institutionalisation of the social control and paternalising mechanisms as had been intended in different schemes or implemented by the Jewish élite through its philanthropic institutions in regard to the poor and working class immigrants, mostly from eastern Europe, during the whole of the nineteenth century. As reflected in Jewish history, helping the poor was and remained one of the most appealing and cherished values based on the assumption that such help had generally functioned satisfactorily. The humanitarian implications of philanthropy have been discussed and tested in the light of the contrasting class interests of the rapidly acculturated Ashkenazic Anglo-Jewish élite which, in its pursuit of wealth, social status and political power in the host community, severely neglected the poor. There was a conspicuous disparity between the élite, characterised by extreme, exclusive élitism and antidemocratic aristocracy, and the large number of poor who lived and eked out their precarious living in the overcrowded and unsanitary Jewish East End. Aloof from the poor and encouraged by its achievements, the Jewish élite had embraced Benthamism, Smilesianism, Social Darwinism and economic theories associated with laissez faire as a basis for the policy of its philanthropic institutions. The narrowness of these doctrines and the influence of the harsh Poor Law of 1 834 and of the COS which emphasised personal responsibility of the individual for his economic situation, are particularly reflected in the activities of the London Jewish Board of Guardians - the key institution of the élite for controlling and regulating the poor. The encounter between the more conscious Jewish working class and the élite and the survival of the Jewish Board of Guardians through incrementalism and gradualism as well as the avoidance of a more radical communal split, have been analysed.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctor of Philosophy (PhD))
Thesis advisor: Miller, Stewart
DOI/Identification number: 10.22024/UniKent/01.02.94625
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 25 April 2022 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: Sociology
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BM Judaism
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GN Anthropology
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
H Social Sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare
Divisions: Divisions > Division for the Study of Law, Society and Social Justice > School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research
SWORD Depositor: SWORD Copy
Depositing User: SWORD Copy
Date Deposited: 11 Oct 2022 13:30 UTC
Last Modified: 11 Oct 2022 13:30 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

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