Amish Enterprise: From Plows to Profits / Edition 2

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Amish culture has been rooted in the soil since its beginnings in 1693. But what happens when members of America's oldest Amish community enter non-farm work in one generation? How will hundreds of cottage industries and micro-enterprises reshape the heart of Amish life? Will traditional eighth grade education still prove adequate? What about gender roles, child-rearing practices, leisure activities, and growing ties with outsiders? Amish Enterprise was the first book to discuss these dramatic changes that are transforming Amish communities across North America. Based on interviews with more than 150 Amish entrepreneurs, the authors trace the rise and impact of businesses in Lancaster's Amish settlement in recent decades. In this new edition, the authors update demographic and technological changes, and also describe Amish enterprises outside of Pennsylvania in a new chapter.

Johns Hopkins University Press

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Editorial Reviews

Utopian Studies
Useful in courses in religion and culture; an excellent supplementary text for courses in sociology... Amish and other minority groups... may be inspired and instructed by this heartening document.

— Gene Burd

Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion

Important for anyone interested in the interplay between a small, separate religious group and the dominant culture.

Contemporary Sociology

In developing the concept of cultural restraints, Kraybill and Nolt expand the ethnic economy literature that only discusses cultural resources, not restraints. This theoretical contribution is valuable because religious beliefs handicap Amish entrepreneurs in many serious ways.

Philadelphia Inquirer

The Amish lifestyle is changing, but the Amish grasp on the land is stronger than ever... The move of Amish into small businesses was documented by Donald B. Kraybill in his recent book, Amish Enterprise... Some Amish 'shopmen' no longer need to work dawn-to-dusk, as they did when tending dairy herds requiring 5 a.m. and 5 p.m. milkings. In this male-dominated society, some men are not the dominant influence in this cultural change because 'twenty percent of the businesses are operated by women.

Utne Reader

Kraybill studied 1,000 Amish businesses in Lancaster County and found few cases of failure—and some big successes. Some 15 percent had sales over $100,000, and 7 percent had sales over half a million dollars.

Mennonite Quarterly Review

Provides yet another fine example of Kraybill and Nolt's excellent scholarship on and respect for the Amish people.

Yearbook of the Society of German-American Studies

Admirably organized, clearly and engagingly written, and free from unnecessary jargon. While objective and independent in approach, Kraybill and Nolt display commendable respect for Amish principles and attitudes.

Mennonite Weekly Review

Amish Enterprise thoroughly documents the causes and consequences of Amish involvements in business... This book has many of the virtues of the people it studies. It represents thorough work, clear organization and carefully measured judgments. The authors are good story tellers as well as social analysts. The book deserves the acclaim it has received.

Utopian Studies - Gene Burd

Useful in courses in religion and culture; an excellent supplementary text for courses in sociology... Amish and other minority groups... may be inspired and instructed by this heartening document.

selected as an Outstanding Academic Book Choice

At once sensitive and compassionate, this is a significant contribution to understanding how Amish culture is being transformed... This is scholarship at its best.

Peter Ester

Amish Enterprise is a well-written, fascinating book on how the Old Order Amish cope with modernity.

The Amish people of Lancaster County, Pa., have shifted from farming to business ownership within a single generation, triggering a host of implications for the group--place of residence, education, technology, child-rearing practices, gender roles, community structure, and relations with the outside world. And it reflects a fundamental transformation of worldview toward the modern and the rationalized. This analysis concludes that Lancaster's Amish haven't completely ceded their cultural souls to the pursuit of profit; they have achieved their economic success within the moral bounds of their church and without the typical trappings of technology and education. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780801878053
  • Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press
  • Publication date: 3/28/2004
  • Series: Center Books in Anabaptist Studies Series
  • Edition description: second edition
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 304
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.64 (d)

Meet the Author

Donald B. Kraybill is Distinguished College Professor and Senior Fellow in the Young Center for Anabaptist and Pietist Studies at Elizabethtown College, Pennsylvania. Widely recognized for his work on Anabaptist groups, he has authored and edited many books, including The Riddle of Amish Culture and The Amish and the State, both available from Johns Hopkins. Steven M. Nolt is an associate professor of history at Goshen College, Indiana. He is the author of numerous articles and several books on Anabaptist and Pennsylvania German groups.

Johns Hopkins University Press

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Table of Contents

Pt. 1 The Cultural Context
1 The Roots of Amish Life 3
Pt. 2 Cultural Resources for Entrepreneurship
2 From Plows to Profits 19
3 A Profile of Amish Enterprises 36
4 Homespun Entrepreneurs 56
5 Labor and Human Resources 73
Pt. 3 Cultural Constraints on Entrepreneurship
6 The Moral Boundaries of Business 93
7 Taming the Power of Technology 106
8 Small-Scale Limitations 125
Pt. 4 The Public Face of Amish Enterprise
9 Promotion and Professional Networks 143
10 Coping with Litigation and Liability 159
11 Negotiating with Caesar 173
12 Failure and Success 190
Pt. 5 The Transformation of Amish Society
13 The Fate of a Traditional People 207
14 National Patterns of Amish Work 224
App.: Research Methods and Data Sources 245
Notes 249
References 269
Index 281
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