The Male Provider: from an Exclusive to an Inclusive Concept in Poor and Social Policies


By Inger Lyngdrup Nørgård, University of Southern Denmark

In this short blog post, I discuss how I have earlier done research about poverty and the status of worthiness of the poor over a three-year period, which led to uncovering the link between worthiness and how charity as well as volunteer deeds in the first half of the 19th century were expelled from public poor relief.

Throughout these studies, I could tell that gender played a role in poverty and the treatment of the poor. However, I did not make an analysis using a gender perspective. In this article in Scandia (here), I present a later study about poverty and the recipients of social help. This study includes the gender aspect, with a special focus on the changing role of the concept of the male provider. Women, especially widows without a male provider, seemed more easily to be regarded as worthy recipients of poor relief from 1770-1850. Still a number of groundbreaking social laws from around the middle of the 19th century and onwards had men, namely not successful providers, as their primary recipient group. Why?