America's Working Man


  • David Montgomery



Political Economy, Labor


What's on the worker's mind? The urgency of this question for socialists, for business executives, for politicians, for advertisers, and for trade unionists has produced a steady flow of journalistic reports, fictional portrayals, legislative investigations, scholarly studies, and accounts "by one who put on overalls to find out," from the 1830s to the present. David Halle, the author of America's Working Man: Work, Home, and Politics Among Blue-Collar Property Owners; and a British-born sociologist who now teaches at Fordham University, insists that the question cannot be answered today (if it ever could be) by examining working people in only one setting: on the job or in their kitchens or at a ball game or as they leave the voting booth. All aspects of their lives must be considered together. Moreover, he warns against envisaging "life at work as the sole source of 'real' consciousness," because this is offset by the media, consumerism, or other forms of imposing the "hegemony of ruling-class ideas." Marxists who have reasoned in that way, Halle writes "may have abandoned materialism too easily, or at least not applied it in as thorough a manner as they should have. Position at work is only one of the material spheres that influence ideology. The other spheres are life outside the workplace and life as a 'citizen' of a nation-state."

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