A brief history of thrift

By Alison Hulme

A brief history of thrift


  • eBook

Book Information

  • Format: Hardcover
  • ISBN: 978-1-5261-2883-6
  • Pages: 152
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £80.00
  • Published Date: June 2019
  • BIC Category: Economic history, BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Economic Conditions, SOCIAL SCIENCE / Anthropology / Cultural, Society & social sciences / Geopolitics, Economics, finance, business & management / Economic & financial crises & disasters, Society & social sciences / Cultural studies, Personal finance


This book surveys 'thrift' through its moral, religious, ethical, political, spiritual and philosophical expressions, focussing in on key moments such as the early Puritans and Post-war 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.


List of Illustrations

Chapter 1: Religious thrift - Puritans, Quakers and Benjamin Franklin
i) Puritans and predestination
ii) Quakers and utilitarian frugality
iii) Benjamin Franklin and the individualisation of thrift
iv) Neo-Puritans and Franklin fans
Chapter 2: Individualist thrift - Victorians, Individualism, and Samuel Smiles
i) The rise of consumerism and individualism
ii) Samuel Smiles and economic morality
iii) David Cameron the neo-Victorian
Chapter 3: Spiritual thrift - Simplicity, anti-consumption and Henry Thoreaux
i) Henry Thoreau's spiritual individualism
ii) Charles Wagner's simplicity
iii) Edith Wharton's domestic asceticism
iv) 'Voluntary simplicity' and anti-consumption
Chapter 4: Nationalist thrift - revolution, depression and world wars
i) Frugality vs colonialism in revolutionary America
ii) Depression, the Marx Brothers and thrifty repentance
iii) 'Make do and mend' thrift in the name of democracy
i) The cupcake revolution and war-era nostalgia
Chapter 5: Consumer thrift - race, responsibility and rights
i) Stuart Chase, Frederick Schlink and the citizen-consumer
ii) The 'negro' shopper
iii) Thrift societies
iv) 'Your country needs you to spend', Keynes, and consumerism
v) Bargain stores frugality and hedonic delights
Chapter 6: Ecological thrift - frugality, nature and anti-Capitalism
i) Roosevelt, conservation and careful consumption
ii) Anti-globalization thrift and environmental justice
iii) Left greening, the commons and collective thrift
Chapter 7: Ideological thrift - One Nation Tories and the current Age-of-Austerity
i) Practices of thrift - freegans, sofa-surfers, drifters, and freecyclers
ii) Elements of past thrift in the present
iii) Ideological motivations and resistance
iv) 'Socialist thrift' or thrival?


Alison Hulme lectures in International Development at the University of Northampton

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