Cultures of Solidarity: Consciousness, Action, and Contemporary American Workers

Cultures of Solidarity: Consciousness, Action, and Contemporary American Workers

Cultures of Solidarity: Consciousness, Action, and Contemporary American Workers

Cultures of Solidarity: Consciousness, Action, and Contemporary American Workers

Synopsis

A commonplace assumption about American workers is that they lack class consciousness. This perception has baffled social scientists, demoralized activists, and generated a significant literature on American exceptionalism. In this provocative book, a young sociologist takes the prevailing assumptions to task and sheds new light upon this very important issue. In three vivid case studies Fantasia explores the complicated, multi-faceted dynamics of American working-class consciousness and collective action.

Excerpt

Though an earlier version of this book served as my Ph.D. thesis, its origins actually extend back several years before my time as a graduate student. In 1975, partly out of curiosity and partly out of necessity, I took a job in a steel-casting foundry, where I worked as a furnace operator in the finishing department. This experience, the subject of one of the three case studies that comprise the empirical foundation of this book, profoundly influenced my approach to the formal sociological training I subsequently received. Besides influencing my decision to attend graduate school in the first place, it provided me with an important set of empirical reference points from which to understand and criticize the discipline of sociology. What this meant was that my life as a graduate student was largely spent thrashing about trying to reconcile that experience with an immense body of literature that found American workers somehow immunized from the impulses, concerns, and conflicts which had punctuated that period in the factory. Perhaps if I had instead gone to work there after my formal academic training, I might have pursued a more standard methodological approach to issues of class consciousness and collective action (see Appendix), but I am not persuaded that that would have made me a better thinker, or this a better book.

Although I take full responsibility for any errors of logic or presentation here, there are, however, a number of people who have made this a better book by their comments and criticisms at various stages of its development. I am indebted to Lewis M. Killian, chairman of my doctoral committee, who in countless intellectual . . .

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