Chapter

Crowds, Community, and Ritual in the Work of E. P. Thompson and Natalie Davis

Lynn Hunt

in The New Cultural History

Published by University of California Press

Published in print March 1989 | ISBN: 9780520064287
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520908925 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1525/california/9780520064287.003.0003
Crowds, Community, and Ritual in the Work of E. P. Thompson and Natalie Davis

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This chapter investigates the underlying historical conceptions and agendas of E. P. Thompson and Natalie Davis as seminal figures in the development of the cultural approach. It also discusses the most essential aspects of their work on popular activism, focusing on Davis' article “The Rites of Violence: Religious Riot in Sixteenth-Century France” and Thompson's “The Moral Economy of the English Crowd in the Eighteenth Century.” Both of these authors shared a common point of emphasis as they uncovered new topics and methods of analysis—the decisive role of culture as a driving force of historical change. They have decisively shown the significance of cultural and communal factors in motivating activists and illustrated the independent and active role of rioters in making their own history. Additionally, they have advanced the cultural approach to crowd violence by demonstrating the need to pose critical questions about communal notions of legitimacy and meaning.

Keywords: crowd violence; popular activism; E. P. Thompson; Natalie Davis; The Rites of Violence; Moral Economy of the English Crowd; cultural approach; culture

Chapter.  9406 words. 

Subjects: Theory and Practice of Anthropology

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