Originally published in 1980.
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The Long Gilded Age considers the interlocking roles of politics, labor, and internationalism in the ideologies and institutions that emerged at the turn of the twentieth century. Presenting a new twist on central themes of American labor and working-class history, Leon Fink examines how the American conceptualization of free labor played out in iconic industrial strikes, and how "freedom" in the workplace became overwhelmingly tilted toward individual property rights at the expense of larger community standards. He investigates the legal and intellectual centers of progressive thought, situating American policy actions within an international context. In particular, he traces the development of American socialism, which appealed to a young generation by virtue of its very un-American roots and influences.
The Long Gilded Age offers both a transnational and comparative look at a formative era in American political development, placing this tumultuous period within a worldwide confrontation between the capitalist marketplace and social transformation.
Molded by internal conflicts and external pressures, social science gradually changed. In the 1890s economics was defined more narrowly around market concerns. Both reformers and students of social dynamics gravitated to the emerging discipline of sociology, while political science professionalized around the important new field of public administration. This division of social science into specialized disciplines was especially significant as progressivism opened paths to power and influence for social science experts.
Professionalization profoundly altered the role and contribution of social scientists in American life. Since the late nineteenth century, professionals have exerted increasing control over complex economic and social processes, often performing services that they themselves have helped to make essential. Furner here seeks to discover how emerging groups of American social scientists envisioned their role what rights and responsibilities they claimed how they hoped to perform a vital social function as they fulfilled their own ambitions, and what restraints they recognized.
The Progressive Era is generally regarded as a period of extraordinary social, political, and economic change, affecting virtually every aspect of American life. In the last decades of the nineteenth century, American social scientists, drawing on their experiences with the German social welfare system, became increasingly interested not merely in identifying problems, but in prescribing means by which to effect social change. This book is an effort to identify the various influences upon critical thinkers, and to examine their approaches to solving the social problems of the time.
A Worker’s Economist begins with John Commons’ childhood and education and continues through his life as a scholar, teacher, administrator, and reformer. Commons’ list of accomplishments are great in number and overall effect. He worked on the staff of the first government commission to investigate the economic and social consequences of corporate mergers. He served as a public representative on the commission that investigated industrial violence and workplace relations. He was a participant observer in America’s largest and most historic mineworkers’ strike. He wrote and administered the nation’s first constitutional worker compensation law. He developed principles of social reform and public administration that his students carried into the design and administration of the Social Security system as well as Lyndon B. Johnson’s War on Poverty.
John Dennis Chasse reviews Commons’ major works, describes the people with whom he worked, and follows the fortunes of the unions that were intrinsic to his vision of “collective democracy.” As a final testament to Commons’ importance, Chasse considers his legacy as it endures in the work of his students and beyond.
Profiling the movement's work in diverse arenas of social reform, politics, labor regulation and "race improvement," Stromquist argues that while progressive reformers may have emphasized different programs, they crafted a common language of social reconciliation in which an imagined civic community ("the People") would transcend parochial class and political loyalties. As progressive reformers sought to reinvent a society in which class had no enduring place, they also marginalized new immigrants and African Americans as being unprepared for civic responsibilities. In so doing, Stromquist argues that Progressives laid the foundation for twentieth-century liberals' inability to see their world in class terms and to conceive of social remedies that might alter the structures of class power.
So writes Philip Perlmutter, whose Legacy of Hate explores this "living contradiction" by tracing the development of American minority group relations, beginning with the arrival of white Europeans and moving through the eighteenth and industrially expanding nineteenth centuries; the explosion of immigration and its attendant problems in the twentieth century; and a final chapter exploring how prejudice (racial, religious, and ethnic) has been institutionalized in the educational systems and laws.
Throughout this provocative book, Perlmutter focuses on where and why various groups encountered prejudice and discrimination and how their experiences have shaped the society we live in and how we think about one another.