chapter  3
An overview of approaches to the study of charity
BySandra Cavallo
Pages 17

The ideas in this chapter originate within the framework of my study of a charitable system, operating in Turin, capital of the Duchy, then the Kingdom of Savoy, between the late sixteenth and the end of the eighteenth centuries. My attempt to reconstruct the development of forms of assistance towards the poor and the sick, and the methods of regulating and financing charities over this broad time-span, has highlighted the weakness of arguments normally used to explain charitable behaviour and poor relief. The explanatory models most commonly employed to analyse new poor relief initiatives, new categories of the assisted and new representations of poverty were unable satisfactorily to explain the changes which I observed, such as fluctuations in the trend of charitable bequests and changes in attitudes towards different institutions and measures.