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Understanding the emergence of modern society is understanding how today's social relationships came to be historically structured as they are. This work, focused on the Southern Scottish Highlands, is particularly concerned with the growth to predominance of the social relations of capitalism, where the central place of the individual, defined in isolation from wider society, relates to individualized notions of private property and land ownership, land rights and tenancy.
This shift in importance of relationships was achieved through improvement, a process involving fundamental change in the ways people engaged with each other. Improvement emphasized the individualized relationships of capitalism over those of community or kin, and this was in large measure achieved through the restructuring of the material, physical environment.
This essential reading will be of importance to archaeologists specializing in capitalism, and historical, as well as to archaeology and Scottish archaeologists and historians.
1: Introduction. Subject. Approach. Structure.
2: Rural Settlement Studies: A Critical History. Rural Settlement Studies as Ethnology. Rural Settlement Studies as Folk Life. Rural Settlement Studies as Historical Archaeology. Archaeology, Documents, and the Writing of Social History. An Active Archaeology of Improvement.
3: Capitalism and Society. Archaeology and Capitalism: The Georgian Order. Beyond the Georgian Order: Society and the Individual. The Constitution of Society and Social Change. Ideology, Material Culture, and Routine Practice. Capitalism, Capitalist Society, and Archaeology.
4: The Changing Material and Routine Environment. The Pre-Improvement Material Environment. Settlement. Landscape. Domestic Space. The Material Environment of Improvement. Settlement. Landscape. Domestic Space. Changing Routine Practice with Improvement.
5: Improvement and Enlightenment. Improvement and the Scottish Enlightenment. Enlightenment Historiography: The Stages of Society. Human Nature, the Commercial Age, and Human Independence. Exemplars for Improvement: Lowland Scotland and England. Settlement. Landscape. Domestic Space. Routine Practice. A Partial Understanding of Improvement.
6: Improvement and the Landowner. Clanship as a Socio-Political System. Duthcas and Oighreachd in Kintyre. Kintyre and the Lordship of the Isles. Forefeiture and Unrest: Kintyre and the Decline of the Lordship of the Isles. Clan Campbell and Clan Donald from the Late Sixteenth Century. Kintyre in the Seventeenth Century: Campbell Territorial Expansion and Resulting Civil Unrest. The Legacy of Unrest: Improvement and the Civilizing of Kintyre. Summary. Improvement in Kilfinan and the Emergent Middle Class. The Landholding History of Kilfinan. Urban Society and the Emergent Middle Class. Improvement and the Establishment and Maintenance of Middle Class Status. Improvement as a Strategy in Resolving Social Contradiction.
7: Improvement and the Farming Population. Narratives of Response to Improvement. Archaeology and the Dynamics of Improvement. Dual Material Response to Improvement. Improvement and the Horizontal Division of the Farming Community. Regional Variation in the Construction of Modern Highland Society. The Dynamics of Improvement.
8: Conclusion. Improvement, the Material Environment, and Routine Practice. Improvement and the Negotiation of Society. Resistance and the Asymmetry of Society. References. Index.