Work and Community in the Jungle: Chicago's Packinghouse Workers, 1894-1922

Front Cover
University of Illinois Press, 1990 - Business & Economics - 290 pages
0 Reviews
Chicago's packinghouse workers were not the hopeless creatures depicted by Upton Sinclair in "The Jungle", but active agents in the early twentieth century transformation that swept urban industrial America. In his case study of Chicago's Union Stockyards, Barrett focuses on the workers - older skilled immigrants, new immigrant common laborers, migrant blacks, and young women workers - and the surrounding neighborhoods. The lives and communities of these workers accurately convey the experience of mass-production work, the quality of working-class life, the process of class formation and fragmentation, and the changing character of class relations. Because Packingtown's struggle for existence was linked directly to the character of work and employment in the industry, unionization played an important role in the lives of these workers. Although unionization was associated with both improving the quality of life and creating a viable community, workers were divided by race, ethnic identity, and skill. "Work and Community in the Jungle" discusses a wide range of social, economic, and cultural factors that resulted in class cohesion and fragmentation. Addressing the broader problem of relations between capital and labor, Barrett demonstrates the effects of government intervention on labor organization, negotiation, and conflict. Shop-floor workers banded together to develop new strategies and forms of organization in their struggle with management for control. Barrett employs contemporary social surveys and a computer-assisted analysis of census data to illustrate the physical and social characteristics of the workers' environment. He analyzes this data in the context of the relationships between community, ethnicity, family, work experience, and industrial characteristics.
 

What people are saying - Write a review

We haven't found any reviews in the usual places.

Selected pages

Contents

The Meatpacking Industry Monopoly Capital and Mass Production
13
The Packinghouse Workers
36
The Families and Communities of Packingtown 18941922
64
Unionization and Americanization 19001904
118
Work Rationalization and the Struggle for Control 19001904
154
Class Race and Ethnicity 191721
188
The Packers Offensive 192122
240
Conclusion
269
Appendix A
281
Appendix B
283
Index
285
Copyright

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

References to this book

All Book Search results »

About the author (1990)

James R. Barrett is a member of the history department at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. A co-author of Steve Nelson, American Radical, he is also the editor of an annotated edition of Upton Sinclair's novel, The Jungle forthcoming from the University of Illinois Press.

Bibliographic information