Gender and sociability in early modern London

Tim Reinke-Williams (Northampton)
12 October 2010

In this podcast Reinke-Williams discusses the effects of gender on sociability in London in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, focusing primarily on the ‘middling sorts’ and labouring poor. The talk covers three broad concepts; neighbourliness, company and civility, aiming to compare and contrast the differing experiences of men and women in these different social instances. While considering the neighbourliness present in this time Reinke-Williams details the positive effects this had for women, describing the sense of trust, friendship and unburdening which arose from the borrowing, lending and visiting of one another’s possessions and homes. However, the role of gender is highlighted with the connotations which arose with single women befriending men through neighbourliness and the exclusion which occasionally occurred. While discussing companionship Reinke-Williams notes the negative connotations should ‘poor company’ be kept by either gender, though for women this was even more prominent with this referring to both the strict social laws on keeping company with men, as well as that error of keeping company with ill thought of women. Finally, the notion of civility in a gendered context is also thought to be problematic women being chastised if they didn’t conform to these civil notions of modesty, sobriety and chastity.





Geographical area: