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Thompson: The Making of the English Working Class: Sources

Thompson here makes very clever use of his source material. The second paragraph deals directly with them and with the problems they throw up. The first examples seem to be couched in the language of hypothetical examples: ‘A friendly society might appear…’ ‘A ranting field preacher might sound…’ (field preachers were evangelicals who preached, often in an impassioned style, to large audiences out of doors, away from the formality of a church). These examples may be generic rather than actual; the ones that follow, however, are clearly specific, as is then shown by the footnote, which refers us to a mixture of archival sources (Fitzwilliam Papers; HO (Home Office) papers) and a secondary account. The effect is to underscore the solid research upon which these examples, which might not otherwise have been believed, is based.


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