WORK, CULTURE, AND SOCIETY IN INDUSTRIALIZING AMERICA by Herbert G. Gutman

WORK, CULTURE, AND SOCIETY IN INDUSTRIALIZING AMERICA

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KIRKUS REVIEW

The impress of E. P. Thompson and the postwar school of British labor history has begun to reach American historians; it is all-pervasive in this collection of essays on industrialization, immigration, and the working-class subcultures of America (to 1919). Gutman (CCNY, History) goes well beyond trade unionism to look at the cultural and psychic resistance to industrialization among both native Americans and immigrants. Like his mentor, he is interested in such things as the decline of lower-class entertainments; the suppression of traditions like Saint Monday and the Goose Egg; the lingering of Old World festivals which clashed with factory work rules; the corporate policing of workers; and the push for a ""sober,"" ""orderly,"" and ""moral"" work force. Gutman examines some very diverse subpopulations: the Lowell factory girls, the Gilded Age artisans, the black miners of the UMW, and the locomotive, iron, and machine manufacturers of Patterson. A persistent theme is ""the continued entry into the United States of nonindustrial people with distinctive cultures"" among whom the ""Protestant Work Ethic"" never took hold. Gutman speculates that this protracted and uniquely American phenomenon might be a source of our endemic violence and the impetus behind our recurrent moral and temperance crusades. Much of the material here is preliminary, some of it is inchoate. But it represents a radical departure from older, quantitative, behavioral approaches and a serious, often moving, attempt to learn more about the lives of people largely ignored--like the hospitalized Italian immigrant boy whose only English was ""boots"" and ""hurry up.

Pub Date: April 12th, 1976
Publisher: Knopf