The most compelling aspect of E. P. Thompson's work for labor historian of Southern Africa is his contention that class is a fluent group relationship or ‘happening’ – something workers do, in addition to what employers and the state impose upon them. However, by the 1970s, Thompson recognized that his earlier claim also had to resonate with other key assumptions about working class aspirations; especially the need of a shared group consciousness to be more meaningful for individuals than the laws of the state. The principal weakness of Thompson's for African historians, however, is the absence of a more explicit discussion about the demise of the English peasantry in his work.
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