Cleanliness, Class, and the Habitual Self
This chapter examines the emergence, promotion, and practice of individual habits of cleanliness. It is argued that these were part of a novel domain of personal or private hygiene, one that was now routinely distinguished from a public domain of legal regulation and bureaucratic oversight. But although habits of cleanliness were certainly personal and private, in the sense that they were a question of the self-governance of bodily details, they were also a matter of governance much beyond the self, relying on novel technologies and the ongoing promotion of a medley of moral and physical norms of conduct. Furthermore, making these habits entailed confronting one of the key axes of English society, class, and working with a public fractured by differential wealth and status. In these respects, it made fora very public process of private habit formation.
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