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A Nation of Realtors: A Cultural History of the Twentieth-Century American Middle Class (Radical Perspectives)by Jeffrey M. Hornstein
Synopses & Reviews
How is it that virtually all Americans came to think of themselves as middle class in the twentieth century? 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 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 aprofession and its enormously successful effort to make the owner-occupied, single-family home a key element of twentieth-century American identity.
?A Nation of Realtors will be an instant classic. It is a brilliant window into the cultural politics of the real estate industry, the best study we have of Realtors, and an incisive analysis of the making of the modern American middle class. Jeffrey M. Hornstein's writing sparkles with an unusually sophisticated and accessible theoretical engagement of his archival sources.? Daniel J. Walkowitz, coeditor of Memory and the Impact of Political Transformation in Public Space
A lively cultural history chronicling the development of Realtors as a profession.
A history of the real estate profession that rethinks the impact of gender and class tensions in twentieth-century America.
About the Author
Jeffrey M. Hornstein is Organizing Director of the Service Employees International Union, Local 36, AFL-CIO, in Philadelphia. He has a Ph.D. in history from the University of Maryland.
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