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Minding the Machine: Languages of Class in Early Industrial America (Hardback)

Stephen P. Rice

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ISBN 10: 0520227816 / ISBN 13: 9780520227811
Edité par University of California Press, United States, 2004
Neuf(s) Etat : New Couverture rigide
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Language: English . Brand New Book. In this innovative book, Stephen P. Rice offers a new understanding of class formation in America during the several decades before the Civil War. This was the period in the nation s early industrial development when travel by steamboat became commonplace, when the railroad altered concepts of space and time, and when Americans experienced the beginnings of factory production. These disorienting changes raised a host of questions about what machinery would accomplish. Would it promote equality or widen the distance between rich and poor? Among the most contentious questions were those focusing on the social consequences of mechanization: while machine enthusiasts touted the extent to which machines would free workers from toil, others pointed out that people needed to tend machines, and that that work was fundamentally degrading and exploitative. Minding the Machine shows how members of a new middle class laid claim to their social authority and minimized the potential for class conflict by playing out class relations on less contested social and technical terrains. As they did so, they defined relations between shopowners--and the overseers, foremen, or managers they employed--and wage workers as analogous to relations between head and hand, between mind and body, and between human and machine. Rice presents fascinating discussions of the mechanics institute movement, the manual labor school movement, popular physiology reformers, and efforts to solve the seemingly intractable problem of steam boiler explosions. His eloquent narrative demonstrates that class is as much about the comprehension of social relations as it is about the making of social relations, and that class formation needs to be understood not only as a social struggle but as a conceptual struggle. N° de réf. du libraire AAH9780520227811

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Détails bibliographiques

Titre : Minding the Machine: Languages of Class in ...

Éditeur : University of California Press, United States

Date d'édition : 2004

Reliure : Hardback

Etat du livre :New

A propos de ce titre

Synopsis :

In this innovative book, Stephen P. Rice offers a new understanding of class formation in America during the several decades before the Civil War. This was the period in the nation's early industrial development when travel by steamboat became commonplace, when the railroad altered concepts of space and time, and when Americans experienced the beginnings of factory production. These disorienting changes raised a host of questions about what machinery would accomplish. Would it promote equality or widen the distance between rich and poor? Among the most contentious questions were those focusing on the social consequences of mechanization: while machine enthusiasts touted the extent to which machines would free workers from toil, others pointed out that people needed to tend machines, and that that work was fundamentally degrading and exploitative.

Minding the Machine shows how members of a new middle class laid claim to their social authority and minimized the potential for class conflict by playing out class relations on less contested social and technical terrains. As they did so, they defined relations between shopowners—and the overseers, foremen, or managers they employed—and wage workers as analogous to relations between head and hand, between mind and body, and between human and machine.

Rice presents fascinating discussions of the mechanics' institute movement, the manual labor school movement, popular physiology reformers, and efforts to solve the seemingly intractable problem of steam boiler explosions. His eloquent narrative demonstrates that class is as much about the comprehension of social relations as it is about the making of social relations, and that class formation needs to be understood not only as a social struggle but as a conceptual struggle.

From the Inside Flap:

"Minding the Machine is an illuminating contribution to our understanding of antebellum mechanization and the origins of the modern middle class. Carefully focusing on key antebellum discussions of mechanical knowledge, training, control, opportunity, bodily and mental health, Rice convincingly shows how deeply these were pervaded by conceptions of social and class authority."—John F. Kasson, author of Amusing the Million: Coney Island at the Turn of the Century

"Stephen Rice has brought provocative questions and fresh research to bear on that vexed topic-the origins of the American middle class. Using the increased mechanization of production during the antebellum decades as his focus, he has provided a fascinating picture of workplace changes and the cultural responses they elicited."—Joyce Appleby, author of Inheriting the Revolution: The First Generation of Americans

"Rice's book explores the intellectual processes by which the emerging middle class in antebellum America strove to understand and control the new industrial order, mapping class relations onto less contested social and technical terrain. Within strange and unusual places and movements seemingly removed from the center of workplace change and conflict—such as health reform and the creation of chess playing automatons—crucial questions of power and authority were debated."—David Zonderman, author of Aspirations and Anxieties: New England Workers and the Mechanized Factory System, 1815-1850

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