The first in-depth look at this pioneering "reality TV" documentary.
Before 1973, the Loud family of Santa Barbara, California, lived in the privacy of their own home. With the airing of the documentary An American Family, that "privacy" extended to every American home that had a television in it-and there was no going back to the happy land of Beaver, Donna Reed, and Father Knows Best. This book is the first to offer a close, sustained look at An American Family-the documentary that blurred conventions, stirred passions among viewers and reviewers, revised impressions of family life and definitions of private and public, and began the breakdown of distinctions between reality and spectacle that culminated in cultural phenomena from The Oprah Winfrey Show to Survivor.
While placing Craig Gilbert's innovative series in the context of 1970s nonfiction film and television, Jeffrey Ruoff tells the story behind An American Family from conception to broadcast, from reception to long-term impact. He reintroduces us to the Louds as intimate details of their daily lives, from one child's dance recital to another's gay lifestyle to the parents' divorce proceedings, unfold first before the camera and then before American viewers, challenging audiences to think seriously about family, marital relations, sexuality, affluence, and the American dream. In the documentary's immediate impact-on both producers and viewers of media-Ruoff uncovers the roots of new nonfiction forms including confessional talk shows like Oprah, first-person documentary films like Ross McElwee's acclaimed Sherman's March, and reality TV programs such as The Real World, Survivor, and Big Brother.
A comprehensive production and reception study, Ruoff's work restores An American Family to its rightful, pioneering place in the history of American television.
Jeffrey Ruoff is a film historian, documentary filmmaker, and assistant professor of film and television studies at Dartmouth College. He is co-author (with Kenneth Ruoff) of The Emperor's Naked Army Marches On (1998).
The Ancient Middle Classes
Emanuel Mayer Harvard University Press, 2012 Library of Congress DG78.M42 2012 | Dewey Decimal 305.550937
Our image of the Roman world is shaped by the writings of upper-class intellectuals. Yet most of the material evidence we have—art, architecture, household artifacts—belonged to artisans, merchants, and professionals. Roman culture as we have seen it with our own eyes is distinctly middle-class and requires a radically new framework of analysis.
In The Argentine Silent Majority, Sebastián Carassai focuses on middle-class culture and politics in Argentina from the end of the 1960s. By considering the memories and ideologies of middle-class Argentines who did not get involved in political struggles, he expands thinking about the era to the larger society that activists and direct victims of state terror were part of and claimed to represent. Carassai conducted interviews with 200 people, mostly middle-class non-activists, but also journalists, politicians, scholars, and artists who were politically active during the 1970s. To account for local differences, he interviewed people from three sites: Buenos Aires; Tucumán, a provincial capital rocked by political turbulence; and Correa, a small town which did not experience great upheaval. He showed the middle-class non-activists a documentary featuring images and audio of popular culture and events from the 1970s. In the end Carassai concludes that, during the years of la violencia, members of the middle-class silent majority at times found themselves in agreement with radical sectors as they too opposed military authoritarianism but they never embraced a revolutionary program such as that put forward by the guerrilla groups or the most militant sectors of the labor movement.
In Bolivia, the discourse on indigenous peoples intensified in the last few decades, culminating in the election of Evo Morales as president in 2005. Indigenous people are portrayed by the Morales government as modest, communitarian, humble, poor, anticapitalist, and economically marginalized. In his 2006 inaugural speech, Morales famously described indigenous people as “the moral reserve of humanity.” His rhetoric has reached all levels of society—most notably the new political constitution of 2009. This constitution initiated a new regime of considerable ethnic character by defining thirty-six indigenous nations and languages.
Beyond Indigeneity offers new analysis into indigenous identity and social mobility that changes the discourse in Latin American social anthropology. Author Alessandra Pellegrini Calderón points out that Morales’s presidency has led to heightened publicity of coca issues and an intensification of indigeneity discourse, echoing a global trend of increased recognition of indigenous peoples’ claims. The “living well” attitude (vivir bien) enshrined in the new political constitution is generally represented as an indigenous way of life, one based on harmony and reciprocity, in sharp contrast to the capitalist logic of “living better” that is based on accumulation and expansion.
In this ethnography, Pellegrini explores the positioning of coca growers in Bolivia and their reluctance to embrace the politics of indigeneity by rejecting the “indigenous peoples’ slot,” even while they emerge as a new middle class. By staying in a space between ethnic categories and also between social classes, the coca growers break with the traditional model of social mobility in Latin America and create new forms of political positioning that challenge the dominant culturalist framework about indigeneity and peasants.
Black Picket Fences is a stark, moving, and candid look at a section of America that is too often ignored by both scholars and the media: the black middle class. The result of living for three years in "Groveland," a black middle-class neighborhood on Chicago's South Side, sociologist Mary Pattillo-McCoy has written a book that explores both the advantages and the boundaries that exist for members of the black middle class. Despite arguments that race no longer matters, Pattillo-McCoy shows a different reality, one where black and white middle classes remain separate and unequal.
"An insightful look at the socio-economic experiences of the black middle class. . . . Through the prism of a South Side Chicago neighborhood, the author shows the distinctly different reality middle-class blacks face as opposed to middle-class whites." —Ebony
"A detailed and well-written account of one neighborhood's struggle to remain a haven of stability and prosperity in the midst of the cyclone that is the American economy." —Emerge
First published in 1999, Mary Pattillo’s Black Picket Fences explores an American demographic group too often ignored by both scholars and the media: the black middle class. Nearly fifteen years later, this book remains a groundbreaking study of a group still underrepresented in the academic and public spheres. The result of living for three years in “Groveland,” a black middle-class neighborhood on Chicago’s South Side, Black Picket Fences explored both the advantages the black middle class has and the boundaries they still face. Despite arguments that race no longer matters, Pattillo showed a different reality, one where black and white middle classes remain separate and unequal.
Stark, moving, and still timely, the book is updated for this edition with a new epilogue by the author that details how the neighborhood and its residents fared in the recession of 2008, as well as new interviews with many of the same neighborhood residents featured in the original. Also included is a new foreword by acclaimed University of Pennsylvania sociologist Annette Lareau.
Aggressive policing and draconian sentencing have disproportionately imprisoned millions of African Americans for drug-related offenses. Michael Javen Fortner shows that in the 1970s these punitive policies toward addicts and pushers enjoyed the support of many working-class and middle-class blacks, angry about the chaos in their own neighborhoods.
The big economic story of our times is not the Great Recession. It is how China and India began to embrace neoliberal ideas of economics and attributed a sense of dignity and liberty to the bourgeoisie they had denied for so long. The result was an explosion in economic growth and proof that economic change depends less on foreign trade, investment, or material causes, and a whole lot more on ideas and what people believe.
Or so says Deirdre N. McCloskey in Bourgeois Dignity, a fiercely contrarian history that wages a similar argument about economics in the West. Here she turns her attention to seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Europe to reconsider the birth of the industrial revolution and the rise of capitalism. According to McCloskey, our modern world was not the product of new markets and innovations, but rather the result of shifting opinions about them. During this time, talk of private property, commerce, and even the bourgeoisie itself radically altered, becoming far more approving and flying in the face of prejudices several millennia old. The wealth of nations, then, didn’t grow so dramatically because of economic factors: it grew because rhetoric about markets and free enterprise finally became enthusiastic and encouraging of their inherent dignity.
An utterly fascinating sequel to her critically acclaimed book The Bourgeois Virtues, Bourgeois Dignity is a feast of intellectual riches from one of our most spirited and ambitious historians—a work that will forever change our understanding of how the power of persuasion shapes our economic lives.
In the midst of the Vietnam war, sit-ins, counter-culture, and campus rallies, the 1966 graduating class of a South New Jersey coast high school came of age on the margins of political and cultural upheaval. Rather than presenting the stereotype of Sixties youth scene, this study reveals this group to be conservative teenagers shaped by mainstream loyalties to God, Country, and Family. These "Coasters"—white, middle-class, suburban baby-boomers—were spectators of rather than participants in the decade's activism. Yet, even as they were missed by the powerful currents of the times, their lives were touched by those currents more than is suggested by the stereotype of Richard Nixon's "Silent Majority."
Paul Lyons interviewed 47 members of the class of 1966, recording recollections of their school days, politics, work, family life, community, and expectations for future careers and family. Each chapter is complemented by personal profiles of individual "Coasters." Removed from both the urban experience and that of the elite suburbs, these teenagers disprove popular cultural assumptions that all baby boomers, with few exceptions, went to Woodstock, protested against the Vietnam War, engaged in drug experimentation, or joined the hippie counter-culture. Instead, Lyons' study explores how their then relative ambivalence to political and cultural rebellion did not preclude many "Coasters" from indirectly incorporating over the years certain core Sixties values on issues of race, gender, mobility, and patriotism.
Thousands of men left their families for the bustling cities of nineteenth-century America, where many of them found work as clerks. The Clerk's Tale recounts their remarkable story, describing the struggle of aspiring businessmen to come of age at the dawn of the modern era. How did these young men understand the volatile world of American capitalism and make sense of their place within it?
Thomas Augst follows clerks as they made their way through the boarding houses, parlors, and offices of the big city. Tracing the course of their everyday lives, Augst shows how these young men used acts of reading and writing to navigate the anonymous world of market culture and claim identities for themselves within it. Clerks, he reveals, calculated their prospects in diaries, composed detailed letters to friends and family, attended lectures by key thinkers of the day, joined libraries where they consumed fiction, all while wrestling with the boredom of their work. What results, then, is a poignant look at the literary practices of ordinary people and an affecting meditation on the moral lives of men in antebellum America.
Consumption Intensified examines how self-identified middle class Brazilians in São Paulo redefined their class during Brazil’s economic crisis of 1981–1994. With inflation soaring to an astounding 2700 percent, their consumption practices intensified, not only in relation to the national crisis but also to the expanding global consumer culture. Drawing on her observations of everyday practices and on representations of the middle class in popular culture, anthropologist Maureen O’Dougherty explores both the logic and incoherence of middle- to upper-middle-class Brazilian life. With the supports of middle-class living threatened—job security, quality education, home ownership, savings, ease of consumption—the means and meaning of “middle class” were thrown into question. The sector thus redefined itself through both class- and race-based claims of moral and cultural superiority and through privileged consumption, a definition the media underscored by continually addressing middle-class Brazilians as consumers—or rather, as consumers denied. In these times, adults became more flexible in employment, and put stakes in their children’s expensive private education. They engaged in elaborate comparison shopping, stockpiling of goods, and financial strategizing. Ongoing desire for distinction and “first- world” modernity prompted these Brazilians to buy foreign goods through contraband, thereby defying state protectionist policy. Discontented with the constraints of the national economy, they welcomed neoliberalism. By uncovering connections between culture and politics, O’Dougherty complicates understandings of the middle class as a social group and category. Illuminating the intricate relation between identity and local and global consumption, her work will be welcomed by students and scholars in anthropology and Latin American studies, and those interested in consumption, popular culture, politics, and globalization.
For the past four decades, increasing numbers of Americans have started paying greater attention to the food they eat, buying organic vegetables, drinking fine wines, and seeking out exotic cuisines. Yet they are often equally passionate about the items they refuse to eat: processed foods, generic brands, high-carb meals. While they may care deeply about issues like nutrition and sustainable agriculture, these discriminating diners also seek to differentiate themselves from the unrefined eater, the common person who lives on junk food.
Discriminating Taste argues that the rise of gourmet, ethnic, diet, and organic foods must be understood in tandem with the ever-widening income inequality gap. Offering an illuminating historical perspective on our current food trends, S. Margot Finn draws numerous parallels with the Gilded Age of the late nineteenth century, an era infamous for its class divisions, when gourmet dinners, international cuisines, slimming diets, and pure foods first became fads.
Examining a diverse set of cultural touchstones ranging from Ratatouille to The Biggest Loser, Finn identifies the key ways that “good food” has become conflated with high status. She also considers how these taste hierarchies serve as a distraction, leading middle-class professionals to focus on small acts of glamorous and virtuous consumption while ignoring their class’s larger economic stagnation. A provocative look at the ideology of contemporary food culture, Discriminating Taste teaches us to question the maxim that you are what you eat.
In the 1933 publication The Masters and the Slaves, Brazilian scholar and novelist Gilberto Freyre challenged the racist ideas of his day by defending the “African contribution” to Brazil’s culture. In so doing, he proposed that Brazil was relatively free of most forms of racial prejudice and could best be understood as a “racial democracy.” Over time this view has grown into the popular myth that racism in Brazil is very mild or nonexistent.
This myth contrasts starkly with the realities of a pernicious racial inequality that permeates every aspect of Brazilian life. To study the grip of this myth on African Brazilians’ views of themselves and their nation, Robin E. Sheriff spent twenty months in a primarily black shantytown in Rio de Janeiro, studying the inhabitants’s views of race and racism. How, she asks, do poor African Brazilians experience and interpret racism in a country where its very existence tends to be publicly denied? How is racism talked about privately in the family and publicly in the community—or is it talked about at all?
Sheriff’s analysis is particularly important because most Brazilians live in urban settings, and her examination of their views of race and racism sheds light on common but underarticulated racial attitudes. This book is the first to demonstrate that urban African Brazilians do not subscribe to the racial democracy myth and recognize racism as a central factor shaping their lives.
When E. Franklin Frazier was elected the first black president of the American Sociological Association in 1948, he was established as the leading American scholar on the black family and was also recognized as a leading theorist on the dynamics of social change and race relations. By 1948 his lengthy list of publications included over fifty articles and four major books, including the acclaimed Negro Family in the United States. Frazier was known for his thorough scholarship and his mastery of skills in both history and sociology.
With the publication of Bourgeoisie Noire in 1955 (translated in 1957 as Black Bourgeoisie), Frazier apparently set out on a different track, one in which he employed his skills in a critical analysis of the black middle class. The book met with mixed reviews and harsh criticism from the black middle and professional class. Yet Frazier stood solidly by his argument that the black middle class was marked by conspicuous consumption, wish fulfillment, and a world of make-believe. While Frazier published four additional books after 1948, Black Bourgeoisie remained by far his most controversial.
Given his status in American sociology, there has been surprisingly little study of Frazier's work. In E. Franklin Frazier and Black Bourgeoisie, a group of distinguished scholars remedies that lack, focusing on his often-scorned Black Bourgeoisie.
This in-depth look at Frazier's controversial publication is relevant to the growing concerns about racism, problems in our cities, the limitations of affirmative action, and the promise of self-help.
Entrepreneurial Selves is an ethnography of neoliberalism. Bridging political economy and affect studies, Carla Freeman turns a spotlight on the entrepreneur, a figure saluted across the globe as the very embodiment of neoliberalism. Steeped in more than a decade of ethnography on the emergent entrepreneurial middle class of Barbados, she finds dramatic reworkings of selfhood, intimacy, labor, and life amid the rumbling effects of political-economic restructuring. She shows us that the déjà vu of neoliberalism, the global hailing of entrepreneurial flexibility and its concomitant project of self-making, can only be grasped through the thickness of cultural specificity where its costs and pleasures are unevenly felt. Freeman theorizes postcolonial neoliberalism by reimagining the Caribbean cultural model of 'reputation-respectability.' This remarkable book will allow readers to see how the material social practices formerly associated with resistance to capitalism (reputation) are being mobilized in ways that sustain neoliberal precepts and, in so doing, re-map class, race, and gender through a new emotional economy.
In 1920s Middle America, the Ku Klux Klan gained popularity not by appealing to the fanatical fringes of society, but by attracting the interest of “average” citizens. During this period, the Klan recruited members through the same unexceptional channels as any other organization or club, becoming for many a respectable public presence, a vehicle for civic activism, or the source of varied social interaction. Its diverse membership included men and women of all ages, occupations, and socio-economic standings. Although surviving membership records of this clandestine organization have proved incredibly rare, Everyday Klansfolk uses newly available documents to reconstruct the life and social context of a single grassroots unit in Newaygo County, Michigan. A fascinating glimpse behind the mask of America’s most notorious secret order, this absorbing study sheds light on KKK activity and membership in Newaygo County, and in Michigan at large, during the brief and remarkable peak years of its mass popular appeal.
Sarah Gwyneth Ross Harvard University Press, 2016 Library of Congress CB361.R67 2016 | Dewey Decimal 940.21
Revealing an Italian Renaissance beyond Michelangelo and the Medici, Sarah Gwyneth Ross recovers the experiences of everyday people who were inspired to pursue humanistic learning. Physicians were often the most avid professionals seeking to earn the respect of their betters, advance their families, and secure honorable remembrance after death.
"Family Fortunes is a major groundbreaking study that will become a classic in its field. I was fascinated by the information it provided and the argument it established about the role of gender in the construction of middle-class values, family life, and property relations.
"The book explores how the middle class constructed its own institutions, material culture and values during the industrial revolution, looking at two settings—urban manufacturing Birmingham and rural Essex—both centers of active capitalist development. The use of sources is dazzling: family business records, architectural designs, diaries, wills and trusts, newspapers, prescriptive literature, sermons, manuscript census tracts, the papers of philanthropic societies, popular fiction, and poetry.
"Family Fortunes occupies a place beside Mary Ryan's The Cradle of the Middle Class and Suzanne Lebsock's Free Women of Petersburg. It provides scholars with a definitive study of the middle class in England, and facilitates a comparative perspective on the history of middle-class women, property, and the family."—Judith Walkowitz, Johns Hopkins University
Fear and Conventionality
Elsie Clews Parsons University of Chicago Press, 1997 Library of Congress GT75.P3 1997 | Dewey Decimal 390
Widely admired by the cultural critics and the avant garde in the 1910s, Fear and Conventionality broke new ground for American anthropology. Elsie Clews Parsons—an anthropologist, cultural critic, feminist, and author—turns a cool and ironic eye on the mores and customs of her own upper-class New York society. Influenced by Ruth Benedict and Franz Boas, William James and Havelock Ellis, Parsons's work is informed by a modernist and feminist approach to cultural anthropology and social psychology. Parsons draws on a wide range of cultural texts as well as her own experiences of daily life to argue that the fear of change prompted many social conventions, such as gift-giving, hospitality, and sexual taboos, and to make predictions about American society today, such as the plight to end intolerance.
A modern mind at the turn of the century, Parsons challenged social conventions at a time when it was less than popular to do so. Witty, graceful, and impassioned, this book will be of interest to social and cultural historians and anyone interested in early twentieth-century America.
Elsie Clews Parsons (1874-1941) is the author of many books, including The Family, The Old-Fashioned Woman, Pueblo Indian Religion, and Mitla. Available from the University of Chicago Press is Elsie Clews Parsons: Constructing Sex and Culture in Modernist America, a biography by Desley Deacon.
As her family traveled the Oregon Trail in 1852, Mary Ellen Todd taught herself to crack the ox whip. Though gender roles often blurred on the trail, families quickly tried to re-establish separate roles for men and women once they had staked their claims. For Mary Ellen Todd, who found a “secret joy in having the power to set things moving,” this meant trading in the ox whip for the more feminine butter churn.
In Gender and Generation on the Far Western Frontier, Cynthia Culver Prescott expertly explores the shifting gender roles and ideologies that countless Anglo-American settlers struggled with in Oregon’s Willamette Valley between 1845 and 1900. Drawing on traditional social history sources as well as divorce records, married women’s property records, period photographs, and material culture, Prescott reveals that Oregon settlers pursued a moving target of middle-class identity in the second half of the nineteenth century.
Prescott traces long-term ideological changes, arguing that favorable farming conditions enabled Oregon families to progress from accepting flexible frontier roles to participating in a national consumer culture in only one generation. As settlers’ children came of age, participation in this new culture of consumption and refined leisure became the marker of the middle class. Middle-class culture shifted from the first generation’s emphasis on genteel behavior to a newer genteel consumption.
This absorbing volume reveals the shifting boundaries of traditional women’s spheres, the complicated relationships between fathers and sons, and the second generation’s struggle to balance their parents’ ideology with a changing national sense of class consciousness.
Harlem Between Heaven And Hell
Monique M. Taylor University of Minnesota Press, 2002 Library of Congress F128.68.H3T39 2002 | Dewey Decimal 305.80097471
A hard-hitting look at race, class, and black gentrification in this emblematic community.
Harlem brings to mind a kaleidoscope of images-the jazz clubs and cultural ferment of the 1920s and 1930s, the urban decay of the 1960s and 1970s, and the revitalization of the past twenty years, with artists, writers, professionals, and even an ex-president moving to a community often seen as the capital of black America. Integral to the ongoing transformation of Harlem has been the return of the African-American middle class to what had become an overwhelmingly poor area. In this lively book, Monique M. Taylor explores the stresses created by this influx, the surprising ways class differences manifest themselves and are managed, and what we can learn from examining a community in which race and class are so closely intertwined.
Harlem between Heaven and Hell is told through a look at history, literature, redevelopment strategies, community activism, and extensive interviews with black professionals-married and single, with children and without, long-term residents and recent arrivals. In their voices we hear of the cultural legacy, political commitments, economic considerations, and desire for community that drew them to Harlem. They tell us of the complexities of gentrification and their own role in it: the trepidation and distrust that often greeted their arrival, the challenges of renovating Harlem's historic brownstones in the face of entrenched neighborhood decay, learning and shaping the social mores of the area. Two key questions underlie these accounts: What does it mean when blacks move in alongside blacks of a different social class? How can a neighborhood successfully balance racial and class diversity in the face of rapid change?
Taylor places this intraracial class conflict within the context of America's changing race relations, showing how the feelings and issues that have arisen-to oppose, embrace, or participate in gentrification-reveal unsettled questions surrounding race, racism, class, and culture in a changing urban landscape. Through her incisive description of the everyday ways race and class are experienced, she has created a vivid exploration of black middle-class identity in the post-civil rights era.
Monique M. Taylor is associate professor of sociology at Occidental College.
This new edition of In Stalin’s Time, which brings back into print Vera Dunham’s 1976 landmark study of popular fiction in the Soviet Union during the Stalin regime, is updated to include new material by the author and a new introduction by Richard Sheldon. Dunham describes how the middle-brow or postwar establishmentarian literature of the Stalinist period was a product of a “Big Deal” intended to propagate values and establish an alliance between the regime and the middle class. Both descriptive and analytical, Dunham’s complex picture of “high totalitarianism” not only reveals insights into the details of Soviet life but illuminates important theoretical questions about the role of literature in the political structure of Soviet society.
Incest and Influence
Adam Kuper Harvard University Press, 2009 Library of Congress HQ1026.K87 2009 | Dewey Decimal 306.850862209421
Like many gentlemen of his time, Charles Darwin married his first cousin. In fact, marriages between close relatives were commonplace in nineteenth-century England, and Adam Kuper argues that they played a crucial role in the rise of the bourgeoisie. This groundbreaking study brings out the connection between private lives, public fortunes, and the history of imperial Britain.
Martha Vicinus's subject is the middle-class English woman, the first of her sex who could afford to live on her own earnings 'outside heterosexual domesticity or church governance.' She wanted and needed to work. Meticulous, resonant, original, triumphant, Independent Women tells of the efforts and endurance of this Victorian woman; of her courage and the constraints that she rejected, accepted, and created. . . . The independent women are the 'foremothers' of any women today who seeks significant work, emotionally satisfying friendships, and a morally charged freedom."—from the Foreword by Catharine R. Stimpson
"Feminist insight combines with vast research to produce a dramatic narrative. Independent Women chronicles the energetic lives and imaginative communal structures invented by women who 'pioneered new occupations, new living conditions, and new public roles.'"—Lee R. Edwards, Ms.
"Vicinus is to be congratulated for her brave and unflinching portraits of twisted spinsters as well as stolid saints. That she stretches her net up into the '20s and covers the women's suffrage momement is a brilliant stroke, for one may see clearly how it was possible for women to mount such an enormous and successful political campaign."—Jane Marcus, Chicago Tribune Book World
"Vicinus' beautifully written book abounds in rich historical detail and in subtle psychological insights in the character of its protagonists. The author understands the complexities of the interplay between economic and social conditions, cultural values, and the aims and aspirations of individual personalities who act in history. . . . A superb achievement."—Gerda Lerner, Reviews in American History
"Martha Vicinus has with intelligence and energy paved and landscaped the road on which scholars and students of activist women all travel for many years."—Blanche Wiesen Cook, Women's Review of Books
"Independent Women can be read by anyone with an interest in women's history. But for all contemporary women, unconsciously enjoying privileges and freedoms once bought so dearly, this book should be required reading."—Catharine E. Boyd, History
Today India’s middle class numbers more than 250 million people and is growing rapidly. Public reports have focused mainly on the emerging group’s consumer potential, while global views of India’s new economy range from excitement about market prospects to anxieties over outsourcing of service sector jobs. Yet the consequences of India’s economic liberalization and the expansion of the middle class have transformed Indian culture and politics. In India’s New Middle Class, Leela Fernandes digs into the implications of this growth and uncovers—in the media, in electoral politics, and on the streets of urban neighborhoods—the complex politics of caste, religion, and gender that shape this rising population. Using rich ethnographic data, she reveals how the middle class represents the political construction of a social group and how it operates as a proponent of economic democratization. Delineating the tension between consumer culture and outsourcing, Fernandes also examines the roots of India’s middle class and its employment patterns, including shifting skill sets and labor market restructuring. Through this close look at the country’s recent history and reforms, Fernandes develops an original theoretical approach to the nature of politics and class formation in an era of globalization.In this sophisticated analysis of the dynamics of an economic and political group in the making, Fernandes moves beyond reductionist images of India’s new middle class to bring to light the group’s social complexity and profound influence on politics in India and beyond.Leela Fernandes is associate professor of political science at Rutgers University, New Brunswick.
A compelling analysis of how "middling" Americans entertained themselves and how these entertainments changed over time.
The changing styles of middle-class home entertainments, Melanie Dawson argues, point to evolving ideas of class identity in U.S. culture. Drawing from 19th- and early-20th-century fiction, guidebooks on leisure, newspaper columns, and a polemical examination of class structures, Laboring to Play interrogates the ways that leisure performances (such as parlor games, charades, home dramas, and tableaux vivants) encouraged participants to test out the boundaries that were beginning to define middle-class lifestyles.
From 19th-century parlor games involving grotesque physical contortions to early-20th-century recitations of an idealized past, leisure employments mediated between domestic and public spheres, individuals and class-based affiliations, and ideals of egalitarian social life and visible hierarchies based on privilege. Negotiating these paradigms, home entertainments provided their participants with unique ways of performing displays of individual ambitions within a world of polite social interaction.
Laboring to Play deals with subjects as wide ranging as social performances, social history (etiquette and gentility), literary history, representations of childhood, and the history of the book.
The artful use of one's free time was a discipline perfected by the French in the nineteenth century. Casinos, alpine hiking, hotel dinners, romantic gardens, and lavish parks were all part of France's growing desire for the ideal vacation. Perhaps the most intriguing vacation, however, was the ever popular health resort, and this is the main topic of Douglas Mackaman's fascinating study.
Taking us into the vibrant social world of France's great spas, Mackaman explores the links between class identity and vacationing. Mackaman shows how, after 1800, physicians and entrepreneurs zealously tried to break their milieu's strong association with aristocratic excess and indecency by promoting spas as a rational, ordered equivalent to the busy lives of the bourgeoisie. Rather than seeing leisure time as slothful, Mackaman argues, the bourgeoisie willingly became patients at spas and viewed this therapeutic vacation as a sensible, even productive, way of spending time. Mackaman analyzes this transformation, and ultimately shows how the premier vacation of an era made and was made by the bourgeoisie.
List: A Novel
Matthew Roberson University of Alabama Press, 2014 Library of Congress PS3618.O3167L57 2013 | Dewey Decimal 813.6
Vignettes of a middle-class American family told through lists, each reflecting their obsessions, their complaints, their desires, and their humanity.
A suburban family of four—a man, woman, boy, and girl—struggle through claustrophobic days crowded with home improvement projects, conflicts at work and school, a job loss, illnesses, separation, and the wearying confrontation with aging. The accoutrements of modern life—electronic devices and vehicles—have ceased to be tools that support them and have become instead the central fulcrums around which their lives wheel as they chase “cleanliness” and other high virtues of middle American life.
In Matthew Roberson’s hands, the family’s list-making transcends the simple goal of planning. Their lists reveal the aspirations and anxieties that lie beneath the superficial clatter of everyday activities. Fearing the aimless chaos of unplanned days, the family compulsively compiles lists as maps to steer them away from uncertainty and failure, and yet at what point does a list stop being a map and become the final destination? The family creates an illusory cloud of meaningful activity but cannot stave off the mortal entropies that mark the suburban middle class.
In Makers of Democracy A. Ricardo López-Pedreros traces the ways in which a thriving middle class was understood to be a foundational marker of democracy in Colombia during the second half of the twentieth century. Drawing on a wide array of sources ranging from training manuals and oral histories to school and business archives, López-Pedreros shows how the Colombian middle class created a model of democracy based on free-market ideologies, private property rights, material inequality, and an emphasis on a masculine work culture. This model, which naturalized class and gender hierarchies, provided the groundwork for Colombia's later adoption of neoliberalism and inspired the emergence of alternate models of democracy and social hierarchies in the 1960s and 1970s that helped foment political radicalization. By highlighting the contested relationships between class, gender, economics, and politics, López-Pedreros theorizes democracy as a historically unstable practice that exacerbated multiple forms of domination, thereby prompting a rethinking of the formation of democracies throughout the Americas.
In this important and timely collection of essays, historians reflect on the middle class: what it is, why its struggles figure so prominently in discussions of the current economic crisis, and how it has shaped, and been shaped by, modernity. The contributors focus on specific middle-class formations around the world—in Africa, Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and the Americas—since the mid-nineteenth century. They scrutinize these formations in relation to the practices of modernity, to professionalization, to revolutionary politics, and to the making of a public sphere. Taken together, their essays demonstrate that the historical formation of the middle class has been constituted transnationally through changing, unequal relationships and shifting racial and gender hierarchies, colonial practices, and religious divisions. That history raises questions about taking the robustness of the middle class as the measure of a society's stability and democratic promise. Those questions are among the many stimulated by The Making of the Middle Class, which invites critical conversation about capitalism, imperialism, postcolonialism, modernity, and our neoliberal present. Contributors. Susanne Eineigel, Michael A.Ervin, Iñigo García-Bryce, Enrique Garguin, Simon Gunn, Carol E. Harrison, Franca Iacovetta, Sanjay Joshi, Prashant Kidambi, A. Ricardo López, Gisela Mettele, Marina Moskowitz, Robyn Muncy, Brian Owensby, David S. Parker, Mrinalini Sinha, Mary Kay Vaughan, Daniel J. Walkowitz, Keith David Watenpaugh, Barbara Weinstein, Michael O. West
Winner of theMihajlo Misa DjordjevicBook Prizeawarded by the North American Society for Serbian Studies
Metropolitan Belgrade presents a sociocultural history of the city as an entertainment mecca during the 1920s and 1930s. It unearths the ordinary and extraordinary leisure activities that captured the attention of urban residents and considers the broader role of popular culture in interwar society.
As the capital of the newly unified Yugoslavia, Belgrade became increasingly linked to transnational networks after World War I, as jazz, film, and cabaret streamed into the city from abroad during the early 1920s. Belgrade’s middle class residents readily consumed foreign popular culture as a symbol of their participation in European metropolitan modernity. The pleasures they derived from entertainment, however, stood at odds with their civic duty of promoting highbrow culture and nurturing the Serbian nation within the Yugoslav state.
Ultimately, middle-class Belgraders learned to reconcile their leisured indulgences by defining them as bourgeois refinement. But as they endowed foreign entertainment with higher cultural value, they marginalized Yugoslav performers and their lower-class patrons from urban life. Metropolitan Belgrade tells the story of the Europeanization of the capital’s middle class and how it led to spatial segregation, cultural stratification, and the destruction of the Yugoslav entertainment industry during the interwar years.
Mexico’s modern middle class emerged in the decades after World War II, a period of spectacular economic growth and social change. Though little studied, the middle class now accounts for one in five Mexican households. This path-breaking book explores the changing fortunes and political transformation of the middle class, especially during the last two decades, as Mexico has adopted new, market-oriented economic policies and has abandoned one-party rule.
Blending the personal narratives of middle-class Mexicans with analyses of national surveys of households and voters, Dennis Gilbert traces the development of the middle class since the 1940s. He describes how middle-class Mexicans were affected by the economic upheavals of the 1980s and 1990s and examines their shifting relations with the ruling Partido Revolucionario Institucional (PRI).
Long faithful to the PRI, the middle class gradually grew disenchanted. Gilbert examines middle-class reactions to the 1968 Tlatelolco massacre, the 1982 debt crisis, the government’s feeble response to the 1985 Mexico City earthquake, and its brazen manipulation of the vote count in the 1988 presidential election. Drawing on detailed interviews with Mexican families, he describes the effects of the 1994–95 peso crisis on middle-class households and their economic and political responses to it. His analysis of exit poll data from the 2000 elections shows that the lopsided middle-class vote in favor of opposition candidate Vicente Fox played a critical role in the election that drove the PRI from power after seven decades.
The book closes with an epilogue on the middle class and the July 2006 presidential elections.
Middle Class Union argues that the period following World War I was a pivotal moment in the development of middle-class consumer politics in the 20th century. At this time, middle-class Americans politically mobilized to define for society what was fair in the growing consumer marketplace. They projected themselves as guardians of the producerist values of hard work, honesty, and thrift, and called for greater adherence to them among the working and elite classes. In this era and in later periods, they flexed their muscles as consumers, and claimed to defend the values of the nation.
Combining social history with interdisciplinary approaches to the study of consumption and symbolic space, Middle Class Union illustrates how acts of consumption, representations of the middle class in literary, journalistic, and artistic discourses, and ground-level organizing combined to enable white-collar activists to establish themselves as both the middle class and the backbone of the nation. This book contributes to labor history by examining the nexus of class and consumption to show how many white-collar workers drew on their consumer identity to express an anti-labor politics, later facilitating the struggles of unions throughout the post–World War I years. It also contributes to political history by emphasizing how these middle-class activists laid important groundwork for both 1920s business conservatism and New Deal liberalism. They exerted their political influence well before the post–World War II period, when a self-interested and powerful middle-class consumer identity is more widely acknowledged to have taken hold.
Drawing on remarkably frank, in-depth interviews with 160 successful men in the United States and France, Michèle Lamont provides a rare and revealing collective portrait of the upper-middle class—the managers, professionals, entrepreneurs, and experts at the center of power in society. Her book is a subtle, textured description of how these men define the values and attitudes they consider essential in separating themselves—and their class—from everyone else.
Money, Morals, and Manners is an ambitious and sophisticated attempt to illuminate the nature of social class in modern society. For all those who downplay the importance of unequal social groups, it will be a revelation.
"A powerful, cogent study that will provide an elevated basis for debates in the sociology of culture for years to come."—David Gartman, American Journal of Sociology
"A major accomplishment! Combining cultural analysis and comparative approach with a splendid literary style, this book significantly broadens the understanding of stratification and inequality. . . . This book will provoke debate, inspire research, and serve as a model for many years to come."—R. Granfield, Choice
"This is an exceptionally fine piece of work, a splendid example of the sociologist's craft."—Lewis Coser, Boston College
Who, exactly, were the French bourgeoisie? Unlike the Anglo-Americans, who widely embraced middle-class ideals and values, the French--even the most affluent and conservative--have always rejected and maligned bourgeois values and identity.In this new approach to the old question of the bourgeoisie, Sarah Maza focuses on the crucial period before, during, and after the French Revolution, and offers a provocative answer: the French bourgeoisie has never existed.
How is it that in the twentieth century virtually all Americans came to think of themselves as “middle class”? In this cultural history of real estate brokerage, Jeffrey M. Hornstein argues that the rise of the Realtors as dealers in both domestic space and the ideology of home ownership provides tremendous insight into this critical question. At the dawn of the twentieth century, a group of prominent real estate brokers attempted to transform their occupation into a profession. Drawing on traditional notions of the learned professions, they developed a new identity—the professional entrepreneur—and a brand name, “Realtor.” The Realtors worked doggedly to make home ownership a central element of what became known as the “American dream.” Hornstein analyzes the internal evolution of the occupation, particularly the gender dynamics culminating in the rise of women brokers to predominance after the Second World War. At the same time, he examines the ways organized real estate brokers influenced American housing policy throughout the century.
Hornstein draws on trade journals, government documents on housing policy, material from the archives of the National Association of Realtors and local real estate boards, demographic data, and fictional accounts of real estate agents. He chronicles the early efforts of real estate brokers to establish their profession by creating local and national boards, business practices, ethical codes, and educational programs and by working to influence laws from local zoning ordinances to national housing policy. A rich and original work of American history, A Nation of Realtors® illuminates class, gender, and business through a look at the development of a profession and its enormously successful effort to make the owner-occupied, single-family home a key element of twentieth-century American identity.
Images of religious extremism and violence in Pakistan—and the narratives that interpret them—inform global events but also twist back to shape local class politics. Ammara Maqsood focuses on life in Lahore, where she untangles these narratives to show how central they are for understanding competition between middle-class groups.
In contemporary Manila, slums and squatter settlements are peppered throughout the city, often pushing right up against the walled enclaves of the privileged, creating the complex geopolitical pattern of Marco Z. Garrido’s “patchwork city.” Garrido documents the fragmentation of Manila into a mélange of spaces defined by class, particularly slums and upper- and middle-class enclaves. He then looks beyond urban fragmentation to delineate its effects on class relations and politics, arguing that the proliferation of these slums and enclaves and their subsequent proximity have intensified class relations. For enclave residents, the proximity of slums is a source of insecurity, compelling them to impose spatial boundaries on slum residents. For slum residents, the regular imposition of these boundaries creates a pervasive sense of discrimination. Class boundaries then sharpen along the housing divide, and the urban poor and middle class emerge not as labor and capital but as squatters and “villagers,” Manila’s name for subdivision residents. Garrido further examines the politicization of this divide with the case of the populist president Joseph Estrada, finding the two sides drawn into contention over not just the right to the city, but the nature of democracy itself.
The Patchwork City illuminates how segregation, class relations, and democracy are all intensely connected. It makes clear, ultimately, that class as a social structure is as indispensable to the study of Manila—and of many other cities of the Global South—as race is to the study of American cities.
In this beautifully written meditation on identity and place, Talmage A. Stanley tells the story of his grandparents' middle-class aspirations from the 1920s to the 1940s in the once-booming Pocahontas coalfields of southern West Virginia. Part lyrical family memoir and part social study, The Poco Field: An American Story of Place addresses a long-standing gap in Appalachian and American studies, illustrating the lives and choices of the middle class in the mid-twentieth century and delving into questions of place-based identity.
Exploring the natural and built environments of the towns of Keystone, West Virginia and Newbern, Virginia, Stanley delineates the history of conflict and control of local industry and development. Through his grandparents' struggle for upward mobility into the middle class, Stanley narrates a history that counters ideas of Appalachia as an exception to American culture and history, presenting instead an image of the region as an emblem of America at large. Stanley builds out from family and local history to examine broad structures of values and practices as they reflect and relate to place, showing how events such as the development of extensive mineworks, the ghettoization of the area's black residents, the catastrophic flooding of the Elkhorn Creek, and the fraud-induced failure of Keystone National Bank signal values that erode a place both literally and figuratively. Giving voice to activists now working to break down boundaries and assumptions that long have defined and restricted the middle class in the global economy, The Poco Field also champions the creative potential of place for reinvigorating democratic society for the twenty-first century.
In Politics without a Past Shari J. Cohen offers a powerful challenge to common characterizations of postcommunist politics as either a resurgence of aggressive nationalism or an evolution toward Western-style democracy. Cohen draws upon extensive field research to paint a picture of postcommunist political life in which ideological labels are meaningless and exchangeable at will, political parties appear and disappear regularly, and citizens remain unengaged in the political process. In contrast to the conventional wisdom, which locates the roots of widespread intranational strife in deeply rooted national identities from the past, Cohen argues that a profound ideological vacuum has fueled destructive tension throughout postcommunist Europe and the former Soviet Union. She uses Slovakia as a case study to reveal that communist regimes bequeathed an insidious form of historical amnesia to the majority of the political elite and the societies they govern. Slovakia was particularly vulnerable to communist intervention since its precommunist national consciousness was so weak and its only period of statehood prior to 1993 was as a Nazi puppet-state. To demonstrate her argument, Cohen focuses on Slovakia’s failure to forge a collective memory of the World War II experience. She shows how communist socialization prevented Slovaks from tying their individual family stories—of the Jewish deportations, of the anti-Nazi resistance, or of serving in the wartime government—to a larger historical narrative shared with others, leaving them bereft of historical or moral bearings. Politics without a Past develops an analytical framework that will be important for future research in Eastern Europe, the former Soviet Union, and beyond. Scholars in political science, history, East European and post-Soviet studies will find Cohen’s methodology and conclusions enlightening. For policymakers, diplomats, and journalists who deal with the region, she offers valuable insights into the elusive nature of postcommunist societies.
Middle- and upper-middle-class students continue to outpace those from less privileged backgrounds. Most attempts to redress this inequality focus on the issue of access to financial resources, but as Producing Success makes clear, the problem goes beyond mere economics. In this eye-opening study, Peter Demerath examines a typical suburban American high school to explain how some students get ahead.
Demerath undertook four years of research at a Midwestern high school to examine the mercilessly competitive culture that drives students to advance. Producing Success reveals the many ways the community’s ideology of achievement plays out: students hone their work ethics and employ various strategies to succeed, from negotiating with teachers to cheating; parents relentlessly push their children while manipulating school policies to help them get ahead; and administrators aid high performers in myriad ways, even naming over forty students “valedictorians.” Yet, as Demerath shows, this unswerving commitment to individual advancement takes its toll, leading to student stress and fatigue, incivility and vandalism, and the alienation of the less successful. Insightful and candid, Producing Success is an often troubling account of the educationally and morally questionable results of the American culture of success.
A person who reads a book for self-improvement rather than aesthetic pleasure is “reading up.” Reading Up is Amy Blair's engaging study of popular literary critics who promoted reading generally and specific books as vehicles for acquiring cultural competence and economic mobility. Combining methodologies from the history of the book and the history of reading, to mass-cultural studies, reader-response criticism, reception studies, and formalist literary analysis, Blair shows how such critics influenced the choices of striving readers and popularized some elite writers.
Framed by an analysis of Hamilton Wright Mabie's role promoting the concept of “reading up” during his ten-year stint as the cultivator of literary taste for the highly popular Ladies' Home Journal, Reading Up reveals how readers flocked to literary works that they would be expected to dislike. Blair shows that while readers could be led to certain books by a trusted adviser, they frequently followed their own path in interpreting them in unexpected ways.
Do Americans, in all their cultural diversity, share any fundamental consensus? Does such a consensus, or anything else, make America exceptional in the modern world?
Since 1960 most historians have answered no--except perhaps for the current nostalgia for the Eisenhower years (the "Ozzie and Harriet" years of popular recollection) of middle-class American prosperity.
In Republic of the Dispossessed social historian Rowland Berthoff maintains not only that there was--and still is--a middle-class consensus and that America is exceptional in it but that it goes back some five hundred years. The consensus stems from all those European peasants and artisans who, from 1600 to 1950, fled dispossession in the Old World. They brought with them basic social values that acted as a template for middle-class American values. To consider modern American society as exceptional--that is, as distinctive and different from any contemporary European pattern of thought--is therefore, in Berthoff's theory, not at all the "illogical absurdity" that current conventional wisdom makes it.
The Berthoff thesis, as he develops it in these ten essays from throughout the course of his career, is well worth a second look by those within and beyond the field of social history. It suggests that the ideal--both peasant and classical republican-- of maintaining a balance between personal liberty and communal equality has long inspired American reaction to the drastic modern changes of industrialization, urbanization, and immigration.
Observing that most Americans still see themselves as independent, basically equal, middle-class citizens, Berthoff explains the current apprehension among Americans that at the end of the twentieth century they are once again being dispossessed-- thus, the current emphasis on "traditional values." Because that problem is the same that worried their European ancestors as much as five hundred years ago, Berthoff argues, the time has come to face the question head-on.
The industrial development of Ecuador has made fortunes for some, but has largely bypassed the general population. Armed by its new power, the bourgeoisie has captured sate mechanisms for its own advancement, leading to the paradox of a “democratic authoritarianism.” In this study, Catherine M. Conaghan views the crucial differences between the social and economic changes in newly developed Latin American nations and those of the southern cone. Using Ecuador as her case study, she shows how industrial growth has given birth to an exclusive, ingrown bourgeoisie that is highly dependent on the state and foreign capital and is increasingly alienated from the peasants and urban poor.
The Road to the Open
Arthur Schnitzler Northwestern University Press, 1991 Library of Congress PT2638.N5W413 1991 | Dewey Decimal 833.8
Turn-of-the-century Vienna was the scene of tremendous social and artistic upheaval. Arthur Schnitzler's novel The Road to the Open brilliantly captures the complex world of Freud, Mahler, Strauss, and Klimt, dealing masterfully with the basic issues of Austian anti-Semitism, the Viennese intellectual community, post-Wagnerian music, and the psychology of Vienna's middle class.
By examining how neoliberal economic reform policies have affected educated young adults in contemporary Morocco, Searching for a Different Future posits a new socioeconomic formation: the global middle class. During Morocco’s postcolonial period, from the 1950s through the 1970s, development policy and nationalist ideology supported the formation of a middle class based on the pursuit of education, employment, and material security. Neoliberal reforms adopted by Morocco since the early 1980s have significantly eroded the capacity of the state to nurture the middle class, and unemployment and temporary employment among educated adults has grown. There is no longer an obvious correlation between the best interests of the state and those of the middle-class worker. As Shana Cohen demonstrates, educated young adults in Morocco do not look toward the state for economic security and fulfillment but toward the diffuse, amorphous global market.
Cohen delves into the rupture that has occurred between the middle class, the individual, and the nation in Morocco and elsewhere around the world. Combining institutional economic analysis with cultural theory and ethnographic observation including interviews with seventy young adults in Casablanca and Rabat, she reveals how young, urban, educated Moroccans conceive of their material, social, and political conditions. She finds that, for the most part, they perceive improvement in their economic and social welfare apart from the types of civic participation commonly connected with nationalism and national identity. In answering classic sociological questions about how the evolution of capitalism influences identity, Cohen sheds new light on the measurable social and economic consequences of globalization and on its less tangible effects on individuals’ perception of their place in society and prospects in life.
During the 1992 Democratic Convention and again while delivering Harvard University’s commencement address two years later, Vice President Al Gore shared with his audience a story that showed the effect of sentiment in his life. In telling how an accident involving his son had provided him with a revelation concerning the compassion of others, Gore effectively reconstructed himself as a typical, middle-class American for whom sympathy can lead to salvation. This contemporary reiteration of mid-nineteenth-century American sentimental discourse proves to be a fruitful point of departure for Mary Louise Kete’s argument that sentimentality has been an important and recurring form of cultural narrative that has helped to shape middle-class American life. Many scholars have written about the sentimental novel as a primarily female genre and have stressed its negative ideological aspects. Kete finds that in fact many men—from writers to politicians—participated in nineteenth-century sentimental culture. Importantly, she also recovers the utopian dimension of the phenomenon, arguing that literary sentimentality, specifically in the form of poetry, is the written trace of a broad cultural discourse that Kete calls “sentimental collaboration”—an exchange of sympathy in the form of gifts that establishes common cultural or intellectual ground. Kete reads the work of Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Mark Twain, Harriet Beecher Stowe, and Lydia Huntley Sigourney with an eye toward the deployment of sentimentality for the creation of Americanism, as well as for political and abolitionist ends. Finally, she locates the origins of sentimental collaboration in the activities of ordinary people who participated in mourning rituals—writing poetry, condolence letters, or epitaphs—to ease their personal grief. Sentimental Collaborations significantly advances prevailing scholarship on Romanticism, antebellum culture, and the formation of the American middle class. It will be of interest to scholars of American studies, American literature, cultural studies, and women’s studies.
The years following World War II saw a huge expansion of the middle classes in the world's industrialized nations, with a significant part of the working class becoming absorbed into the middle class. Although never explicitly formalized, it was as though a new social contract called for government, business, and labor to work together to ensure greater political freedom and more broadly shared economic prosperity. For the most part, they succeeded. In Social Contracts Under Stress, eighteen experts from seven countries examine this historic transformation and look ahead to assess how the middle class might fare in the face of slowing economic growth and increasing globalization. The first section of the book focuses on the differing experiences of Germany, Britain, France, the United States, and Japan as they became middle-class societies. The British working classes, for example, were slowest to consider themselves middle class, while in Japan by the 1960s, most workers had abandoned working-class identity. The French remain more fragmented among various middle classes and resist one homogenous entity. Part II presents compelling evidence that the rise of a huge middle class was far from inclusive or free of social friction. Some contributors discuss how the social contract reinforced long-standing prejudices toward minorities and women. In the United States, Ira Katznelson writes, Southern politicians used measures that should have promoted equality, such as the GI bill, to exclude blacks from full access to opportunity. In her review of gender and family models, Chiara Saraceno finds that Mediterranean countries have mobilized the power of the state to maintain a division of labor between men and women. The final section examines what effect globalization might have on the middle class. Leonard Schoppa's careful analysis of the relevant data shows how globalization has pushed "less skilled workers down and more skilled workers up out of a middle class that had for a few decades been home to both." Although Europe has resisted the rise of inequality more effectively than the United States or Japan, several contributors wonder how long that resistance can last. Social Contracts Under Stress argues convincingly that keeping the middle class open and inclusive in the face of current economic pressures will require a collective will extending across countries. This book provides an invaluable guide for assessing the issues that must be considered in such an effort.
Talk of love surrounds us, and romance is a constant concern of popular culture. Ann Swidler's Talk of Love is an attempt to discover how people find and sustain real love in the midst of that talk, and how that culture of love shapes their expectations and behavior in the process. To this end, Swidler conducted extensive interviews with Middle Americans and wound up offering us something more than an insightful exploration of love: Talk of Love is also a compelling study of how much culture affects even the most personal of our everyday experiences.
A cruise along the streets of Chennai—or Silicon Valley—filled with professional young Indian men and women, reveals the new face of India. In the twenty-first century, Indians have acquired a new kind of global visibility, one of rapid economic advancement and, in the information technology industry, spectacular prowess. In this book, C. J. Fuller and Haripriya Narasimhan examine one particularly striking group who have taken part in this development: Tamil Brahmans—a formerly traditional, rural, high-caste elite who have transformed themselves into a new middle-class caste in India, the United States, and elsewhere.
Fuller and Narasimhan offer one of the most comprehensive looks at Tamil Brahmans around the world to date. They examine Brahman migration from rural to urban areas, more recent transnational migration, and how the Brahman way of life has translated to both Indian cities and American suburbs. They look at modern education and the new employment opportunities afforded by engineering and IT. They examine how Sanskritic Hinduism and traditional music and dance have shaped Tamil Brahmans’ particular middle-class sensibilities and how middle-class status is related to the changing position of women. Above all, they explore the complex relationship between class and caste systems and the ways in which hierarchy has persisted in modernized India.
In twentieth-century Britain the literary landscape underwent a fundamental change. Aspiring authors--traditionally drawn from privileged social backgrounds--now included factory workers writing amid chaotic home lives and married women joining writers' clubs in search of creative outlets. In this brilliantly conceived book, Christopher Hilliard reveals the extraordinary history of "ordinary" voices. In capturing the creative lives of ordinary people--would-be fiction-writers and poets who until now have left scarcely a mark on written history--Hilliard sensitively reconstructs the literary culture of a democratic age.
For fifty years, William Allen White, first as a reporter and later as the long-time editor of the Emporia Gazette, wrote of his small town and its Mid-American values. By tailoring his writing to the emerging urban middle class of the early twentieth century, he won his “gospel of Emporia” a nationwide audience and left a lasting impact on he way America defines itself.
Investigating White’s life and his extensive writings, Edward Gale Agran explores the dynamic thought of one of America’s best-read and most-respected social commentators. Agran shows clearly how White honed his style and transformed the myth of conquering the western frontier into what became the twentieth-century ideal of community building.
Once a confidante of and advisor to Theodore Roosevelt, White addressed, and reflected in his work, all the great social and political oscillations of his time—urbanization and industrialism, populism, and progressivism, isolationism internationalism, Prohibition, and New Deal reform. Again and again, he asked the question “What’s the matter?” about his times and townspeople, then found the middle ground. With great care and discernment, Agran gathers the man strains of White’s messages, demonstrating one writer’s pivotal contribution to our idea of what it means to be an American.
Sociologists have long been curious about the ways in which city dwellers negotiate urban public space. How do they manage myriad interactions in the shared spaces of the city? In Urban Nightlife, sociologist Reuben May undertakes a nuanced examination of urban nightlife, drawing on ethnographic data gathered in a Deep South college town to explore the question of how nighttime revelers negotiate urban public spaces as they go about meeting, socializing, and entertaining themselves.
May’s work reveals how diverse partiers define these spaces, in particular the ongoing social conflict on the streets, in bars and nightclubs, and in the various public spaces of downtown. To explore this conflict, May develops the concept of “integrated segregation”—the idea that diverse groups are physically close to one another yet rarely have meaningful interactions—rather, they are socially bound to those of similar race, class, and cultural backgrounds. May’s in-depth research leads him to conclude that social tension is stubbornly persistent in part because many participants fail to make the connection between contemporary relations among different groups and the historical and institutional forces that perpetuate those very tensions; structural racism remains obscured by a superficial appearance of racial harmony.
Through May’s observations, Urban Nightlife clarifies the complexities of race, class, and culture in contemporary America, illustrating the direct influence of local government and nightclub management decision-making on interpersonal interaction among groups.
In recent decades a growing number of middle-class parents have considered sending their children to—and often end up becoming active in—urban public schools. Their presence can bring long-needed material resources to such schools, but, as Linn Posey-Maddox shows in this study, it can also introduce new class and race tensions, and even exacerbate inequalities. Sensitively navigating the pros and cons of middle-class transformation, When Middle-Class Parents Choose Urban Schools asks whether it is possible for our urban public schools to have both financial security and equitable diversity.
Drawing on in-depth research at an urban elementary school, Posey-Maddox examines parents’ efforts to support the school through their outreach, marketing, and volunteerism. She shows that when middle-class parents engage in urban school communities, they can bring a host of positive benefits, including new educational opportunities and greater diversity. But their involvement can also unintentionally marginalize less-affluent parents and diminish low-income students’ access to the improving schools. In response, Posey-Maddox argues that school reform efforts, which usually equate improvement with rising test scores and increased enrollment, need to have more equity-focused policies in place to ensure that low-income families also benefit from—and participate in—school change.
T. H. Breen introduces us to the ordinary men and women who took responsibility for the course of the American revolution. Far from the actions of the Continental Congress and the Continental Army, they took the reins of power and preserved a political culture based on the rule of law, creating America’s political identity in the process.
The Dumville family settled in central Illinois during an era of division and dramatic change. Arguments over slavery raged. Railroads and circuit-riding preachers brought the wider world to the prairie. Irish and German immigrants flooded towns and churches. Anne M. Heinz and John P. Heinz draw from an extraordinary archive at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum to reveal how Ann Dumville and her daughters Jemima, Hephzibah, and Elizabeth lived these times. The letters tell the story of Ann, expelled from her Methodist church for her unshakable abolitionist beliefs; the serious and religious Jemima, a schoolteacher who started each school day with prayer; Elizabeth, enduring hard work as a farmer's wife, far away from the others; and Hephzibah, observing human folly and her own marriage prospects with the same wicked wit. Though separated by circumstances, the Dumvilles deeply engaged one another with their differing views on Methodism, politics, education, technological innovation, and relationships with employers. At the same time, the letters offer a rarely seen look at antebellum working women confronting privation, scarce opportunities, and the horrors of civil war with unwavering courage and faith.
"Rodgers's book is a study of how technology affects ideas. That is the issue to which Rodgers always returns: how did men and women react to the economy of unprecedented plenty that the 19th-century revolution in power and machines had produced? . . . This is certainly . . . one of the most refreshing and penetrating analyses of the relation of diverse levels of 19th-century culture that it has been my pleasure to read in a long time."—Carl N. Degler, Science
The phrase “a strong work ethic” conjures images of hard-driving employees working diligently for long hours. But where did this ideal come from, and how has it been buffeted by changes in work itself? While seemingly rooted in America’s Puritan heritage, perceptions of work ethic have actually undergone multiple transformations over the centuries. And few eras saw a more radical shift in labor ideology than the American industrial age.
Daniel T. Rodgers masterfully explores the ways in which the eclipse of small-scale workshops by mechanized production and mass consumption triggered far-reaching shifts in perceptions of labor, leisure, and personal success. He also shows how the new work culture permeated society, including literature, politics, the emerging feminist movement, and the labor movement.
A staple of courses in the history of American labor and industrial society, Rodgers’s sharp analysis is sure to find a new audience, as twenty-first-century workers face another shift brought about by technology. The Work Ethic in Industrial America 1850–1920 is a classic with critical relevance in today’s volatile economic times.
Young, White, and Miserable is a critically acclaimed study that compellingly shows how the feminist movement of the 1960s found momentum in the seemingly peaceable time of the 1950s. Wini Breines explores white middle class America and argues that mixed messages given to girls during this decade lent fuel to the fire that would later become known as feminism. Concluding with a look at the life and suicide of social scientist Anne Parsons, this book is a poignant and important look into conditions that led to the women's movement.