Poor government and work organisation in the real albergo dei poveri of palermo: a bio-political experiment in bourbon-sicily (eighteenth–nineteenth centuries)

Roberto Rossi


The paper aims to improve understanding of the role played by accounting in its function of government practice, considering the interfacing function of the Real Albergo dei Poveri of Palermo charity. Michel Foucault’s governmentality framework is adopted in order to explore the labour organisation within the Real Albergo dei Poveri of Palermo, where a silk manufacturer, the Real Opificio delle Sete (Royal Silk factory), was established in 1790 to exploit the workforce hosted in the institution. The paper analyses the accounting system established to manage the commodified and forced labour of poor female inmates in relation to a central issue—the social control promoted by central government. The idea is to demonstrate that work was the means to carry on the social control of people considered alien and not integrated by the society of the time, while the accounting system was the tool. The study uses documents from Palermo’s State Archive about the foundation and internal organisation of the Real Opificio delle Sete and account books from the institution and silk manufacturer to verify the role of labour and its measurement, highlighting accounting based on the checking and reporting system. Furthermore, the paper, by means of the accounting system, examines the organisation of work and internal management, and the allocation of wealth in the form of healthcare, social security and housing.

Palabras clave

poor-government; accounting; Sicily; Eighteenth century

Texto completo:


DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.26784/issn.1886-1881.v15i1.325

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Copyright (c) 2018 Roberto Rossi

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Este obra está bajo una licencia de Creative Commons Reconocimiento-NoComercial-CompartirIgual 4.0 Internacional.

Electronic ISSN:1886-1881

Índices y Bases de Datos: Emerging Sources Citation Index 2015 Web of Science (Clarivate Analytics) MIARDIALNETREDIBDICEEC3LATINDEXRESHULRICHSERIH PLUSBusiness Source Complete (EBSCOhost) e IN-RECS (hasta 2009).

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