This book surveys ‘thrift’ through its moral, religious, ethical, political, spiritual and philosophical expressions, focusing in on key moments such as the early Puritans and postwar rationing, and key characters such as Benjamin Franklin, Samuel Smiles and Henry Thoreau. The relationships between thrift and frugality, mindfulness, sustainability and alternative consumption practices are explained, and connections made between myriad conceptions of thrift and contemporary concerns for how consumer cultures impact scarce resources, wealth distribution and the Anthropocene. Ultimately, the book returns the reader to an understanding of thrift as it was originally used – to ‘thrive’ – and attempts to re-cast thrift in more collective, economically egalitarian terms, reclaiming it as a genuinely resistant practice. Students, scholars and general readers across all disciplines and interest areas will find much of interest in this book, which provides a multi-disciplinary look at a highly topical concept.

Abstract only
Continuity and change in Radical moral politics, 1820– 70

This book is the first in-depth study of the changing nature of moral politics within working-class Radicalism between 1820 and 1870. It highlights how Radicalism's attitudes to morality and everyday life shifted from a festive and libertarian culture to a more austere and ascetic politics. This has been done through study of the lives, activism and intellectual influences of a number of key leaders of working-class Radicalism. This culture emphasized moral improvement, temperance and frugality after the 1840s. Although the London Working Men's Association (LWMA) has often been regarded as elitist and reluctant to adopt a leadership position within organised Chartism, several key members were instrumental in forming the organisational basis for Chartism outside of London. These tours illustrate how not only Vincent but many Chartist activists achieved success by adopting the festive and populist ethos evident amongst London Radicals. In reality the advocacy of teetotalism and education were part of a popular ethical turn within the movement, and O'Connor's attempts to present the danger of a split movement was 'artificial'. The principles and strategies that William Lovett and Henry Vincent developed over the course of 1840 became accepted as a core aspect of Chartist political culture. By 1842, Ethical Radicalism became hegemonic within the movement after 1842 largely because of the constitutional, peaceful, and moral politics of electoral interventions. Working-class moral politics was a product of working- class Radicalism in the first half of the century rather than a post- Chartist imposition.

Abstract only
Thoreau in the city

to enrichen some and at best entail some form of ‘trickle-​down’ of that wealth to others (although there is rightly much scepticism about this). So, it stands to reason that for many, in fact most, people on the planet thrift in the form of frugality is simply a fact of everyday life. Historical discourses that present it as something that only occurs when times are economically tough, or amongst those who have enough to cut back a little, fail to recognise the material reality of the majority world.1 In addition, this account assumes that capitalism forms some

in A brief history of thrift

more generally –​economic history as a slow slide from thrift into spending. This is John Galbraith’s view in his famous The Affluent Society; it is also apparent in David Tucker’s The Decline of Thrift in America. Aligned to this is Daniel Bell’s view in The Cultural Contradictions of Capitalism that the instalment plan and instant credit was the single major factor that destroyed the Protestant ethic. Similarly, Terrance Witkowski plots a history of frugality in the United States from the Puritan fathers to Voluntary Simplicity and up to the present, but

in A brief history of thrift
Abstract only

-​Western thinking do get blurred now and again along the way (Thoreau’s influence on Gandhi being a classic example), so now and again, non-​Western thinkers have small walk-​on parts. However, the specific shifts from thrift as thriving to thrift as frugality, and vice versa, are intricately linked with Western thought, largely due to the way in which thrift has played such a specific part in the development of Western capitalism. Thrift, on the whole, cannot be understood in the same way when viewed from a non-​Western context. Therefore, this book only attempts to deal with

in A brief history of thrift

reputation of Scots. The Catholic publication the New Zealand Freeman’s Journal also referred in 1884 to Scottish frugality in its comments on a Scottish clergyman, Dr Macleod, but saw thriftiness in less positive terms: ‘I fear that to convince the canny Scot that it is wrong to hunt for bargains is a task greatly beyond the argumentative powers of Dr. Macleod.’ 22 The engagement of Scottish migrants

in Scottishness and Irishness in New Zealand since 1840
Abstract only

this generated ethnic consciousness among those mocked – unless Scottish laughter about frugality reinforced their identity, but positively, as they scoffed at the ridicule directed their way in order to defuse the situation. Poetry and literature, meanwhile, had romantic overtures, with literary creations targeting specific audiences such as Highland societies, or reflecting the poet’s own leanings

in Scottishness and Irishness in New Zealand since 1840

particularly high unemployment thousands of men migrated to England in search of work. For some families this strategy literally was their salvation. But many men who went off to England failed to send money home, thereby compounding the misery of their wives and children. This chapter, in an examination of social conditions and social policies, argues that the nationalist vision of frugality and simplicity translated into a lack of initiative on the part of successive Irish governments, and children paid a particularly high price for that lack of initiative. Standard of

in Precarious childhood in post-independence Ireland
Benjamin Franklin, Samuel Smiles and Victorian moralism

, frugality, industry, sincerity, justice, moderation, cleanliness, tranquillity, chastity and humility. Thrift then, was clearly established as frugality by Franklin, but perhaps more poignantly, was grouped with industry and moderation, making it part of a cycle in which hard work brought a living that should be used extremely carefully and without any decadence. Franklin’s famous Poor Richard maxims prove this brilliantly. Poor Richard (or Richard Saunders) was a character created by Benjamin Franklin, and who appeared in his best-​selling almanac that ran from 1732 to

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

92 7 Ecological thrift: frugality, de-​growth and Voluntary Simplicity Thrift as a tool for de-​growth Discourses around frugality and the environment are by no means new, and voices from across academic disciplines call for thrift from a broadly ecological standpoint, and have done for many decades. Several well-​researched and bestselling reports on the threatened state of the global environment saw public awareness grow from the 1970s onwards. Key amongst these was Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring (1962) and the Club of Rome’s Limits to Growth report (1972

in A brief history of thrift