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date: 19 September 2019

Abstract and Keywords

The role of Quakers and other non-conformists in the development of capitalism on both sides of the Atlantic is well known. This chapterexamines the growth of Quaker business in England and America, considering in particular the often-difficult relationship between Friends’ religious beliefs and commercial success. Particularly important sectors included iron, railways, and banking. Quaker industrialists and bankers were known for their widespread and active involvement in philanthropy, which was seen as a social duty. Friends were also known for their pioneering business practices, notably the development of profit-sharing. Many of the same themes are apparent in Quakers’ relationship with global capitalism: Friends have played a significant role in the support of ethical and environmentally sustainable business in the Global South and in promoting ethical investment. The tensions between economic success and distaste for material prosperity continue to influence Quaker conceptions of their economic role.

Keywords: Quakers, business, philanthropy, industry, commerce, banking, capitalism, environment, development, ethical investment

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