Conclusion: Thrift and Thriving

James Davison Hunter

Edited by Joshua J. Yates

in Thrift and Thriving in America

Published in print July 2011 | ISBN: 9780199769063
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199896851 | DOI:
Conclusion: Thrift and Thriving

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The common, underlying meaning of thrift—the question about what it means to thrive—remains an animating concern for many Americans regarding the normative dimensions of economic life. This chapter argues that the reappraisal of the history of thrift offered in this volume not only leads us to ask this question but provides resources for answering it. The original contribution of this volume is to show how the enduring question of thriving has always been the subtext of thrift more narrowly understood and, in turn, has repeatedly inspired both powerful forms of social critique and movements of social reform that continue to inform our culture down to the present day. Sustained consideration of thrift in this deeper sense supplies a badly needed normative vocabulary for thinking and talking about present economic, environmental, and social challenges. If there is a moral to the story of thrift, it is that our ability to sustain and extend the conditions for genuine human thriving depend, first and foremost, upon our ability to sustain and extend a conversation about the inescapably normative dimensions of economic life. This is the promise of thrift, “well understood”.

Keywords: thrift; American culture; thriving; economic life; social reform

Chapter.  12980 words. 

Subjects: Economic Sociology

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