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Puritans, Quakers and Methodists

. Furthermore, the return for the endeavour of thrift was seen as being important in ‘this life’, in the here and now, not as a way of guaranteeing a place in heaven, largely because, for Quakers, God was not an all-​powerful external entity, but resided within oneself. Put this way, it becomes clearer quite why the Quaker religious beliefs were so threatening to the Puritans. Interestingly, the Quakers were initially better than the Puritans at maintaining this belief in simple living and thrift, and did remain less materialistic, despite their impressive ability to generate

in A brief history of thrift
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which thrift has been used by those with influence to enhance or rally against capitalism(s). A by-​product of this shift from thrift as thriving (ethical thrift), to thrift as frugality (moral thrift) is that (with a few exceptions) it has gradually been prised away from actually belonging to people as a practice of everyday life that can be used wilfully, tactically and sometimes as resistance. Instead, it has become rationalised as part of socio-​economic arguments made by early capitalists, religious thinkers who tied their beliefs to capitalism and middle

in A brief history of thrift
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Simplicity, sensuality and politics in Henry Thoreau

53 4 Spiritual thrift: simplicity, sensuality and politics in Henry Thoreau Thoreau’s sensual thrift So far, this book has explored how the concept of thrift, motivated by various religious and individualist concerns, moved increasingly further away from its etymological sense of thriving, and closer to a sense of frugality at various points throughout history. Arguably, this shift in the meaning of the concept is at another historical high with the austerity culture in many European countries following the 2008 financial crash. Certainly, political rhetoric

in A brief history of thrift
Benjamin Franklin, Samuel Smiles and Victorian moralism

received more emphasis than religious virtues (Hoffer, 2003). In the present day, Hasbro’s ‘Game of Life’ sees players given a credit card which enables them to play whilst hugely in debt, and indeed potentially even win despite that fact. Samuel Smiles and economic morality Of all the literature of the era, however, the most influential (certainly in Britain) was that of Samuel Smiles. His first book –​Self-​Help (1859) –​was a bestseller that had, almost overnight, elevated him to celebrity status. His second  –​ Thrift (1875) –​was in many ways a continuation of his

in A brief history of thrift
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Frugality, de-growth and Voluntary Simplicity

, literature, critique, policy, movement, way of life and attack on the ideology of economic growth (2015). Based on the accumulated work of the thinkers mentioned above, de-​ growth is a radical critique of neo-​classical thinking on economic growth. As Andreonia and Galmarini say, the de-​growth paradigm ‘proposes a solution that consists of reducing the scale of the socio-​economic system to fit within the biophysical limits of the planet’ (2013:65). Perhaps most importantly, de-​ growth insists upon the incompatibility of consumer capitalism and ecological sustainability

in A brief history of thrift
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Making do, rationing and nostalgic austerity

69 5 Nationalist thrift: making do, rationing and nostalgic austerity ‘Make do and mend’: thrift in the name of democracy So far, this book has tackled the religious thrift of the Puritans with its Providentialist and later more pragmatic concerns, the strict moral thrift of the Victorians with its grounding in individualism and social righteousness, and the spiritual individualism and communal vision of Thoreau. This chapter will explore examples of thrift quintessentially different from those witnessed so far, due to their emphasis on social solidarity based

in A brief history of thrift

. Detraditionalisation and pluralisation of styles of life We commonly characterise modernity in terms of the loosening of social and cultural structures that – in pre-modern times – were fixed by juridical, religious and traditional structures. For example, studies of emergent consumer culture emphasise a destabilisation of both status and lifestyle: there is a new fluidity to material culture, as well as a new pluralism that requires ‘choice’ and problematises the taken-for-grantedness of the objects, lifestyles and relationships that fill everyday life (for example, Giddens, 1991

in Market relations and the competitive process

, supported by a renewed and thriving discipline of economics. This culture can provide the foundations on which a set of participatory, democratic institutions can be built which facilitate the involvement of far greater numbers of people in economic discussion and decision making. It may be hard to imagine such a shift now when so many economic decisions are made behind closed doors and it would undoubtedly involve significant changes to daily life and the state, which the cynic could condemn as utopian. However, as we will demonstrate in this chapter, we are already

in The econocracy
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Keynes, consumer rights and the new thrifty consumers

consumption amongst African-​ Americans saw sociologist E. Franklin Frazier write Black Bourgeoisie, about a new African-​American elite who indulged in conspicuous consumption in their own black worlds. For Frazier the old black middle class had evolved from one 84 84 A brief history of thrift in which genteel manners, folk traditions and religious practices were central, to one with a more secular outlook which measured its own success by occupational status and income level. However, according to Frazier this new class lacked a firm place in the American economy and

in A brief history of thrift

, suggesting the same can be said for Miller’s theory. This exact distinction between morals and ethics is the one this book makes between thrift (understood as frugality), and thrift (understood as thriving). To be fair, neither Evans nor Miller were attempting a theory of thrift primarily, but this contextualising of the practice does mean historical reality is not well represented. Historically, people have engaged in thrift for all sorts of reasons –​to get to heaven, to live a more fulfilling life, to challenge capitalism, to be respectable, to be part of a war effort

in A brief history of thrift