(I’ve had sporadic internet and computer access for a bit here so I’ve written bits of drafts of a few posts over a few days, I’m going to post this stuff all now.)

I don’t remember if I ever actually finished E.P. Thompson’s “moral economy of the crowd” essay. I’m going to when I get home, and I’m going to read his “moral economy revisited” essay. Since I don’t know if I read that essay all the way or not, I’m not sure I’m using the term quite as Thompson did. My understanding of it is that people understand themselves as individuals and as members of collectivities and those understandings shape their behaviors. People aren’t stomachs with legs who react when hungry. People have brains and hearts as well, which shape how (and if) they act when hungry.

This seems to me relevant to predictions about actions in response to the current economic crisis – some friends of mine think we’re going to see more things happening than I think is likely. The relevance of the moral economy here is that in my view we need to tap into existing moral economies – where and when people are outraged – as well as extend them and probably reshape them, and build new ones where they don’t exist. Responses to the regular economy will be closely tied to the status of existing (or lacking) moral economies.

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