Synopses & Reviews
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 Americas 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, Rodgerss 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 18501920 is a classic with critical relevance in todays volatile economic times.
"The Work Ethic in Industrial America is a brilliant and morally acute examination of the rhetoric of work in the United States. Its republication is timely in two ways. Not only are work and the work ethic being again radically transformed, but so is historiography. Written just before intellectual and social history separated and diverged, this edition comes when these fields are reconvening. What a wonderful model it offers for future work!"
“A delight to read.”
This book offers a bold new interpretation of American business history during the formative years 1870 1920, which mark the dawn of modern big business. It focuses on four major revolutions that ushered in this new era: those in power, transportation, communication, and organization. Using the metaphor of America as an economic hothouse uniquely suited to rapid economic growth during these years, it analyzes the interplay of key factors such as entrepreneurial talent, technology, land, natural resources, law, mass markets, and the rise of cities. It also delineates the process that laid the foundation for the modern era, in which virtually every human activity became a business, and, in most cases, a big business. The book also profiles numerous major entrepreneurs whose careers and activities illustrate broader trends and themes. It utilizes a wide variety of sources, including novels from the period, to produce a lively narrative.
About the Author
Daniel T. Rodgers
Table of Contents
Preface to the Second Edition
1. Work Ideals and the Industrial Invasion
2. Hireling Laborer
3. “Mechanicalized” Men
4. Play, Repose, and Plenty
5. Splinterings: Fables for Boys
6. Sons of Toil: Industrial Workers and Their Labor
7. Idle Womanhood: Feminist Versions of the Work Ethic
8. The Political Uses of Work Rhetoric
Epilogue: Charles W. Eliot and the Quest for Joyful Labor