Customs in Common


ISBN 9789350024522
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ISBN 9789350024522


In this book E.P. Thompson expands on the studies of The making of the English Working Class, examining plebeian culture, working-class consciousness and industrial life. His main thesis is that in 18th century England there was a tacit agreement of social behaviour and stability between the gentry and the poor. Both were allowed to take certain measures to achieve their aims – the gentry did it via parliament and the poor via civil disobedience and the threat of civil disobedience. Most interesting, however, was the symbolic or cultural struggle – what Thompson calls the theatre and counter-theatre. The theatre meant the social attitudes – the gentry had its wigs, its fancy outfits and its arrogant attitude, and the poor had its popular culture. Thus was power and discontent channelled through cultural manifestations. E.P. Thompson is best known today for his historical work on the British radical movements in the late- 18th and early- 19th centuries – in particular his book The Making of the English Working Class (1963). A prolific journalist and essayist he also published an influential biography of William Morris (1995) as well as a book on Wiliam Blake (1993), a novel and a collection of poetry. He died in 1993. [m]eticulously researched, elegantly argued and deeply humane. – New York Times Book Review 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 quite uneqalled. – The Observer


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