From Alienation to Addiction: Modern American Work in Global Historical Perspective

Front Cover
Paradigm Publishers, 2008 - Business & Economics - 177 pages
This book has two foci: first, an examination of how work changed as societies industrialized. Modern work, not only in factories but also offices and elsewhere, has characteristics of speed, supervision, and subdivision of tasks that separate it from traditional forms of labor. Seeing how this transition occurred and what it has meant to different groups as industrial systems spread allows history to be used to illuminate current patterns and problems. Second, the book looks at ways modern American work has differed, somewhat, from work responses elsewhere—particularly through unusually heavy emphasis on the work ethic. At times, American patterns have had significant influence beyond the national borders. Comparative analysis shows how the results of a somewhat distinctive national history spill over into contemporary experience—including the unusually limited amount of time Americans currently spend on vacations compared to their counterparts elsewhere. Featuring major changes over the past two centuries, along with comparative issues, the book treats different kinds of experiences among different groups in the population: women, children, and the elderly, most notably, have had distinctive modern work histories that deserve attention, and help explain some key labor issues in the United States and the world today.

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Contents

Analyzing Work as an Experience
1
Work in Premodern Societies
9
Work and the American Tradition
25
Copyright

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About the author (2008)

Peter N. Stearns is Provost and Professor of History at George Mason University. He has taught previously at Harvard, the University of Chicago, Rutgers, and Carnegie Mellon; he was trained at Harvard University. He has published widely both in world history and modern social history, including the history of emotions. Representative works in world history include World History: A Survey, The Industrial Revolution in World History, Gender in World History, Consumerism in World History, and Growing Up: The History of Childhood in Global Context. His publications in social history include Old Age in Preindustrial Society, Anger: The Struggle for Emotional Control in America's History (with Carol Stearns), Jealousy: The Evolution of an Emotion in American History, American Cool: Developing the Twentieth-Century Emotional Style, Fat History: Bodies and Beauty in Western Society, The Battleground of Desire: The Struggle for Self-Control in Modern America, and American Fear: The Causes and Consequences of High Anxiety. He has also edited encyclopedias of world and social history, and since 1967 has served as Editor in Chief of the Journal of Social History. He is deeply interested in using history to illuminate contemporary issues and politics.

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