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Embracing RiskThe Changing Culture of Insurance and Responsibility$
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Tom Baker and Jonathan Simon

Print publication date: 2002

Print ISBN-13: 9780226035185

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: March 2013

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226035178.001.0001

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Embracing Fatality through Life Insurance in Eighteenth-Century England

Embracing Fatality through Life Insurance in Eighteenth-Century England

(p.80) Four Embracing Fatality through Life Insurance in Eighteenth-Century England
Embracing Risk

Geoffrey Clark

University of Chicago Press

This chapter takes a historical look at the role of gambling and virtue in the development of the modern insurance regime. It examines how insurance grew hand-in-hand with gambling, arguing that the business of insurance actually stimulated the speculative passions as much as it depressed risk taking. The chapter demonstrates that the culture of risk management epitomized by life insurance emerged not so much from an attempt to banish risks as to play with them. In the process, the chapter analyzes how risk sometimes is both individualized and socialized. It discusses how life insurance simultaneously enabled families to protect themselves against financial disaster, and promoted continuity and autonomy in the larger commercial society.

Keywords:   life insurance, eighteenth-century England, insurance regime, gambling, risk taking, risk management

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