Gabriele B. Clemens, Daniel Reupke

Between private networks and institutional pawning: the cultural practice of credit in the nineteenth century

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Inspired by the sociological approach that Gilles Postel-Vinay employed for France in 1997, this article uses social network analysis to examine the mechanisms of lending in a rural town located in the Saar-Lor-Lux (Saarland-Lorraine-Luxembourg) border region. Using notarised debt certificates to construct a database spanning the whole of the nineteenth century, we try to reconstruct the networks within which all lending took place in an age before bank loans became available. Amongst other things, the preliminary findings suggest that participating in these various network structures was the conditio sine qua non to obtain credit. Although lending activities were strongly city-centred, they were spreading beyond the state boundaries between the Prussian Saarregion, France and Luxembourg. The authors shed light on the role of institutions, intermediaries and the Jewish community as well as on the terms of lending. Finally, we reveal how credit markets in the nineteenth-century countryside operated.

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