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Document Details :

Title: Effeminacy in Early Commercial Society
Subtitle: Adam Smith and his Contemporaries on Manly Men and Proper Ladies
Author(s): SLEGERS, Roos
Journal: Tijdschrift voor Filosofie
Volume: 85    Issue: 1   Date: 2023   
Pages: 7-31
DOI: 10.2143/TVF.85.1.3292007

Abstract :
The dichotomy set up between femininity and masculinity in the eighteenth century betrays a deep unease about middle-class identity and the blurring of gender boundaries in a commercial society. Reading economist and moral philosopher Adam Smith against the backdrop of the conduct literature of his time, we get the sense that, to be safeguarded, masculinity needs to be clearly separated from (and shored up against) femininity. But how to achieve this clear distinction in a prosperous society where only a small percentage of all male inhabitants must wage war, if at all? Masculinity is allegedly, first and foremost, characterized by martial virtues, and these cannot be truly developed away from the battlefield. National security and economic growth make for easy living, but Smith and his contemporaries worry that what benefits commercial society threatens to ruin masculinity.

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