Poverty is Not a Vice

Poverty is Not a Vice

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At the turn of the twentieth century, many Russians clung to the traditional belief that qpoverty is not a viceq and that personal acts of generosity toward the poor, including beggars, earn spiritual salvation. Here Adele Lindenmeyr explores how this thinking--and opposition to it--shaped the development of private charity and public welfare in Russia from the eighteenth century to World War I. In recovering a long-forgotten aspect of Russian history, Lindenmeyr offers new insights into major issues debated by historians today: the development of a viable civil society in an autocratic state, the efficacy of central and local government, and Russians' complex reaction to Western ideas. Her book also provides fascinating background to the new flourishing of private charity in post-communist Russia. The first challenges to the ethos of personal charity came from Peter the Great. Influenced by the Western notion that poverty was a vice, he attempted a systematic approach to its eradication. Lindenmeyr traces the course of poor relief from the establishment of the first state welfare institutions to the post-emancipation devolution of responsibility for the needy to local authorities. At the same time, however, almsgiving still thrived, especially among the peasant estate, where personal acts of charity were preferred to a poor tax. Finally, the author shows how hundreds of privately founded charitable societies and institutions also emerged, reflecting educated society's increasing awareness of poverty as a social problem and contributing significantly to the public sphere.responsibilities that they probably had little time or interest in the boardsa#39; charitable operations. ... With only a few exceptions, the government prohibited them from distributing aid in money or in kind.50 The institutions themselves had a terrible reputation. ... of the boards in 1 862, criticized the operation of many of their institutions. ... Overcrowded and lacking psychiatrists, the boardsa#39; insane asylums resembled prisons rather than hospitals.52 According to one early- twentieth-centuryanbsp;...

Title:Poverty is Not a Vice
Author:Adele Lindenmeyr
Publisher:Princeton University Press - 1996


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