The origins of Quaker commercial success, (1689-c.1755)

Fincham, Andrew James (2021). The origins of Quaker commercial success, (1689-c.1755). University of Birmingham. Ph.D.

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This thesis provides the first comprehensive explanation of the relationship between key factors which enabled Quakers (the Religious Society of Friends) to achieve commercial success during the first half of the eighteenth century. Four factors have been identified which combined to provide a unique environment which encouraged Friends' success: first, the Quaker emphasis on education and particularly apprenticeship produced the 'raw material' that developed into shopkeepers, merchants, and manufacturers; second, this was financed by a communal infrastructure which also provided access to business capital; third, the unique topology of one, single Quaker network facilitated and intensified interactions across the entire wealth creation process; finally, the ethics of the Society as codified in the Advices within their 'Discipline', required adherence to values and behaviours which were both compatible with, and actively promoted, commercial success. Together, these provided a unique secular utility for members of the Religious Society of Friends in the late seventeenth century which would promote commercial success through much of the eighteenth century, until a combination of external changes in the wider context, and a shift in the disciplinary focus of the central London Yearly Meeting in pursuit of what they held to be an ancient purity, caused a decline in their commercial efficacy.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
Licence: All rights reserved
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Arts & Law
School or Department: School of Philosophy, Theology and Religion, Department of Theology and Religion
Funders: None/not applicable


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