Customs in Common: Studies in Traditional Popular Culture
An epic and intimate firsthand account of a true American hero’s daring journey into the heart of the Amazon forest in the nineteenth-century.
“Meticulously researched, elegantly argued and deeply humane,” Customs in Common describes the complex culture from which working class institutions emerged in England—a panoply of traditions and customs that the new working class fought to preserve well into Victorian times (The New York Times Book Review).
This remarkable sequel to E. P. Thompson’s influential, landmark volume of social history, The Making of the English Working Class, 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 Thompson explains, “rebellious, but rebellious in defence 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.
“By providing a fuller sense of the way of life capitalism destroyed, Customs in Common helps us understand why the resistance to it was so protracted and tenacious . . . [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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LibraryThing ReviewUser 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
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