E.P Thompson's The making of the English Working Class Essay

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E.P Thompson's The making of the English Working Class


From looking at The making of the English Working Class it seems quite obvious that E.P Thompson’s main arguments throughout his book are about the notion of ‘class’, in particular the ‘making of the working class’ ; and in order to evaluate his theories we must attempt to look at other historians opinions about his book, and his suggested theories, in order to come to an impartial evaluation.

Many historians have their own interpretations when trying to define class, like Bourke who links class to characteristics such as accent, clothing; Marx who states that class was ‘no more or less than an objective social category’; and E.P.Thompson’s definition, that class happens ‘as a
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However, it is argued by Palmer that ‘the platonic models of Anderson-Nairn thesis tidied up all the messiness of class struggles in a kind of tunnel vision that could scope only in the linear sightings of one-dimensional boundaries of hegemony,’ suggesting that Anderson had put all the essential struggles that the working class experienced. However Thompson was not just focusing on this, but the aspect of ‘the extent to which, even in defeat, the working class proceeded to ‘warren’ capitalist society ‘from end to end’, building and supporting a network of trade unions, co-operative societies, fraternal associations, and self help movements.’ The fact that Thompson had attempted to explain the working class as an intellectual group or artisans who encouraged one another to through the introduction of such unions and societies goes beyond the notion of just explaining the meaning of class but that he is also trying show the number of different ways in which the working class expressed their ‘shared common interests’ and how they used these interest in order to achieve social identity, ‘the lived experiences of men and women were important in forming classes and their consciousness of social identity.’
The fact that ‘before Thompson no one knew how to write the history of a class,’ gives us the impression that Thompson was the first of many to attempt to show us ‘how workers could be given voices and wills and could be constituted…