What Price the Poor?: William Booth, Karl Marx and the London Residuum, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

What Price the Poor?

William Booth, Karl Marx and the London Residuum, 1st Edition

By Ann M. Woodall


248 pages

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In this fascinating book, Ann Woodall investigates and compares the work and thought of William Booth and Karl Marx, who both arrived in London in 1849. She draws comparisons between their responses to the intractability of the poverty of the 'submerged tenth' of London's population, and argues that Booth's pioneering work in establishing the Salvation Army and the development of Marx's economic theory began in their interactions with the London residuum. Each recognised that much of the suffering was caused by the workings of laissez-faire capitalism and that its total solution required a challenge to the existing economic system. What Price the Poor? raises important questions about the relationship between theological discourse and the sociological imagination, and it firmly places the development of theoretical and practical social analysis and application within the context of social history. It will appeal to all with interests in classical sociology and the history of social activism.


’What do Karl Marx and the Salvation Army’s William Booth have in common? More than one might expect, Ann Woodall suggests in this unusual book. They had similar encounters with the poorest of the poor in the greatest city of the nineteenth century - similar romantic hopes for their redemption - similar movements towards a more systematic programme of social transformation. Without turning Marx into a Salvationist or Booth into a socialist, Woodall shows how the "residuum" captured the imaginations of both religious and secular prophets of social change in the nineteenth century.’ Peter Mandler, Gonville and Caius College, University of Cambridge, UK ’The plight of the poor around the globe gives special relevance to this broadly informed and readable review of the engagement of Booth and Marx with the realities of intractable poverty among the residuum� of Victorian London. As Woodall makes clear, Booth lived out a Gospel of redemptive compassion that produced a Salvation Army with the Cross at its heart. This informative study is an indispensable resource for recovering the historical and theological imperatives of the Army’s continuing pursuit of William Booth’s mission to the poor.’ General Paul A. Rader (Retired), Th.M., D.Miss, Former International Leader of The Salvation Army ’…Woodall’s book is a welcome addition to Salvationist historiography and Victorian social history.’ Ecclesiastical History ’…the intimate and systematic analysis of theology and ideology in [the] particular context of the London residuum adds a further level of understanding to the work of William Booth, the influence of Karl Marx, and responses to metropolitan poverty in the later Victorian period.’ The London Journal

Table of Contents

Contents: Introduction; The pawnbroker’s apprentice; The Reverend William; The revolutionary philosopher; The philosopher as a prophet?; The making of a General; The making of a General’s mind; The General in command; Fifty years on; Index.

About the Author

Ann M. Woodall is Chief International Auditor for the Salvation Army. She studied for her PhD at London Guildhall University, UK.

About the Series

Rethinking Classical Sociology

Rethinking Classical Sociology
This series is designed to capture, reflect and promote the major changes that are occurring in the burgeoning field of classical sociology. The series publishes monographs, texts and reference volumes that critically engage with the established figures in classical sociology as well as encouraging examination of thinkers and texts from within the ever-widening canon of classical sociology. Engagement derives from theoretical and substantive advances within sociology and involves critical dialogue between contemporary and classical positions. The series reflects new interests and concerns including feminist perspectives, linguistic and cultural turns, the history of the discipline, the biographical and cultural milieux of texts, authors and interpreters, and the interfaces between the sociological imagination and other discourses including science, anthropology, history, theology and literature. The series offers fresh readings and insights that will ensure the continued relevance of the classical sociological imagination in contemporary work and maintain the highest standards of scholarship and enquiry in this developing area of research.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Sociology / General