Anti-shouting law: a war-time sumptuary impulse tied up with slouch hats and khaki



Publication Details

C. Dick, 'Anti-shouting law: a war-time sumptuary impulse tied up with slouch hats and khaki' (2016) 16 (1) Legal History 59-78.


This article argues that sumptuary intervention was particularly 'alive' in Australia during the period of the First World War. This time was marked by social and economic anxieties, and government was preoccupied with issues of national security and morality similar to those that prompted the creation of the original English sumptuary laws in the early modern period. Whilst these laws were mostly aimed at regulating public attire, it must not be forgotten that such laws also often targeted other forms of private behaviour and consumer practices. As Alan Hunt explains in his comprehensive tome on the history of English sumptuary law, these laws were never just about the regulation of personal appearance and rules relating to dress. He demonstrates that sumptuary laws 'came in many varieties' and at various times were directed at the private consumption of food and alcohol, social ceremonies, entertainment and economic wealth. He suggests that whilst these laws often aimed to limit or regulate the private expenditure of citizens, they were also concerned with the social manifestations of consumption. Furthermore, they consistently involved some combination of social, economic and moral regulation.

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