“Thompson’s Method”

Critical Reading
By Federico Tarragoni

The complete edition of Thompson’s work in French is an invitation, to the social sciences, to debate the theoretical relevance of his historical analysis. For twenty years, the social sciences in France have limited their discussion on the comparative uses of Thompson’s concept of the “moral economy of the crowd.” But Thompson’s work can be read, in its internal coherence, within a specific critical method. This method, strictly related to an original demonstrative style, can be analyzed with a double “key”: a sociological comprehension of “popular politics” and a theoretical analysis of social experience, which gives the method of the “history from below” its full meaning. This double key allows the social sciences to understand the anthropological meaning of “politics” in Thompson’s work, as the possibility, in every human society, from the past to the present, of freedom and emancipation.

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