Reading List: The Making of the English Working Class by E.P. Thompson

‘I am seeking to rescue the poor stockinger, the Luddite cropper, the “obsolete” hand-loom weaver, the “utopian” artisan, and even the deluded follower of Joanna Southcott, from the enormous condescension of posterity.’

E.P. Thompson’s The Making of the English Working Class remains, even so many years after its initial publication, one of the best works of social history ever published, and an inspiration to radical and labor historians. It was also an important influence on the rise of cultural studies, particularly as developed at the Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies in Birmingham, England.

If you haven’t read it, get it at Radical Ebook Archive or at

A more recent book, engaged in a similar project – albeit in France and influenced by poststructuralist theory – is Jacques Rancière’s The Nights of Labor: The Workers’ Dream in Nineteenth-Century France (1989): “This book is an influential work of social history which examines in detail the records of ordinary workers’ lives in order to produce a new picture of their surprising political sophistication” (Wikipedia).

For more…


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