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The Emergence of the Middle Class: Social Experience in the American City, 1760-1900 / Edition 1

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Overview

Of all the terms with which Americans define themselves as members of society, few are as elusive as "middle class." This book traces the emergence of a recognizable and self-aware "middle class" between the era of the American Revolution and the end of the nineteenth century. The author focuses on the development of the middle class in larger American cities, particularly Philadelphia and New York. He examines the middle class in all its complexity, and in its day-to-day existence—at work, in the home, and in the shops, markets, theaters, and other institutions of the big city. The book places the new language of class—-in particular the new term "middle class"—in the context of the concrete, interwoven experiences of specific anonymous Americans who were neither manual workers nor members of urban upper classes.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"...[Blumin] approaches a wide range of questions, always ina stimulating manner, with a richness and density of illustration." M.J. Daunton, Journal of Urban History

"Stuart Blumin's book is the most important effort to date to bring the question of middle-class formation into the critical caldron of social change in early 19th-century America in the seaboard cities. The best of his evidence is from Philadelphia, whose social history he has mined with diligence and ingenuity. (There are appropriate comparisons with New York and Boston.)" Daniel T. Rodgers, The New Republic

"Blumin's book is a singular combination of massive synthesis, innovative methodology, and imaginative interpretation....Blumin's conceptualization of class is convincing and technically skillful in its implementation." David A. Gerber, Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography

"Historians have used the category ['middle class'] both to describe and explain social relations, but the criteria for class membership has remained vague. Stuart Blumin makes an admirable intervention into this fuzziness in his extended exploration of different facets of 'increasingly distinctive class experiences' in antebellum cities." Labor History

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Product Details

Table of Contents

List of tables and figures; Preface; 1. The elusive middle class; 2. 'Middling sorts'in the eighteenth-century city; 3. Toward white collar: nonmanual work in Jacksonian America; 4. Republican prejudice: work, well-being, and social definition; 5. 'Things are in the saddle': consumption, urban space, and the middle-class home; 6. Coming to order: voluntary associations and the organization of social life and consciousness; 7. Experience and consciousness in the antebellum city; 8. White-collar worlds: the postbellum middle class; Epilogue; Notes; Bibliography; Index.

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