In the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, the internal migration of a growing population transformed Britain into a “society of strangers.” The coming and going of so many people wreaked havoc on the institutions through which Britons had previously addressed questions of collective responsibility. In her new book, Trust Among Strangers: Friendly Societies in Modern Britain (Cambridge University Press, 2018), Cooney Family Assistant Professor of History Penelope Ismay re-centers problems of trust in the making of modern Britain. In this groundbreaking account, she examines the ways in which upper-class reformers and working-class laborers fashioned and refashioned the concept and practice of friendly society to make promises of collective responsibility effective – even among strangers. Read an essay drawn and adapted from Trust Among Strangers in the fall issue of Boston College Magazine.
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