Customs in Common: Studies in Traditional Popular Culture

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New Press/ORIM, Sep 22, 2015 - Social Science - 560 pages
The “meticulously researched, elegantly argued and deeply humane” sequel to the landmark volume of social history, The Making of the English Working Class (The New York Times Book Review).
This remarkable study investigates the gradual disappearance of a range of cultural customs against the backdrop of the great upheavals of the eighteenth century. As villagers were subjected to a legal system increasingly hostile to custom, they tried both to resist and to preserve tradition, becoming, as E. P. Thompson explains, “rebellious, but rebellious in defense of custom.” Although some historians have written of riotous peasants of England and Wales as if they were mainly a problem for magistrates and governments, for Thompson it is the rulers, landowners, and governments who were a problem for the people, whose exuberant culture preceded the formation of working-class institutions and consciousness.
Essential reading for all those intrigued by English history, Customs in Common has a special relevance today, as traditional economies are being replaced by market economies throughout the world. The rich scholarship and depth of insight in Thompson’s work offer many clues to understanding contemporary changes around the globe.
“[This] long-awaited collection . . . is a signal contribution . . . [from] the person most responsible for inspiring the revival of American labor history during the past thirty years.” —The Nation
“This book signals the return to historical writing of one of the most eloquent, powerful and independent voices of our time. At his best he is capable of a passionate, sardonic eloquence which is unequalled.” —The Observer

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User Review  - jsburbidge - LibraryThing

This is a worthy companion to The Making of the English Working Class; it's ironic that where the latter is omnipresent as a coursebook and an entry-level work for its subject, this book is now out of ... Read full review


Preface and Acknowledgements
Custom and Culture
The Patricians and the Plebs
Custom Law and Common Right
The Moral Economy of the English Crowd in the Eighteenth Century
The Moral Economy Reviewed
Time WorkDiscipline and Industrial Capitalism
The Sale of Wives
Rough Music

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About the author (2015)

E. P. Thompson (1924–1993) was a British historian, writer, socialist, and peace campaigner. He is most famous for his work on the British radical movements of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century, as well as influential biographies of William Morris and William Blake. An ardent left-wing socialist critic of the Labour governments of 1964–70 and 1974–79 and a historian in the Marxist tradition, Thompson was an active figure in ending the Cold War.

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