Josh Rhodes

Department: History
Discipline: History
Research Centre/Unit: Centre for Early Modern Studies

Project Summary

My doctoral thesis, ‘Agrarian Capitalism in England, c.1650- c.1800: A new methodological approach’, re-evaluates existing definitions and approaches to the study of the development of agrarian capitalism in seventeenth- and eighteenth-century England. It challenges traditional narratives of agrarian change resting on dichotomous classifications of farmers and farms which do not account for the complexities and ambiguities of individual cultivators’ lives and farming practices. The thesis reconfigures the traditional criteria of capitalist farming (land tenure, size of farms, wage/family labour, and market orientation of farms) to produce a new, more nuanced method to define, measure, and understand a crucial period of change in English agrarian society.

Central to my thesis is a methodology which shifts the focus away from landowners to those who directly cultivated land. In doing so, it moves beyond macro-economic explanations of change by focusing on individual cultivators and exploring their lives and circumstances. It reconfigures capitalist farming as a spectrum of behaviours, and complicates broader understandings of social and economic hierarchies in the early modern period.

Supervisory Team

Professor Henry French and Dr Freyja Cox Jensen

Authored Publications/Reports

Rhodes, J, (May 2018) Book Review: Review of The world of the small farmer: tenure, profit and politics in the early modern Somerset Levels by Patricia Croot, Economic History Review, (Forthcoming)

Rhodes, J, (July 2017) Blog Post: Reflections on “Living Well and Dying Well in the Early Modern World”, , Past and Present Blog

Rhodes, J, (June 2018) Journal Article: Subletting in eighteenth-century England: A new methodological approach, Agricultural History Review, 66, 67-92