A Very Social Time / Edition 1

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Karen Hansen's richly anecdotal narrative explores the textured community lives of New England's working women and men—both white and black—n the half century before the Civil War. Her use of diaries, letters, and autobiographies brings their voices to life, making this study an extraordinary combination of historical research and sociological interpretation.

Hansen challenges conventional notions that women were largely relegated to a private realm and men to a public one. A third dimension—the social sphere—also existed and was a critical meeting ground for both genders.
In the social worlds of love, livelihood, gossip, friendship, and mutual assistance, working people crossed ideological gender boundaries.

The book's rare collection of original writings reinforces Hansen's arguments and also provides an intimate glimpse into antebellum New England life.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Hansen (sociology, Brandeis Univ.) argues that defining men's realm as the ``public'' and women's as the ``private'' does not account for the roles both men and women played in creating the communities of antebellum New England. She believes that a third dimension she calls the ``social'' needs to be added. As an example, she cites the importance of visiting in the creation of the community. Visitors were frequently cited in diaries as providing opportunities to discuss current issues, work together, and help one another. Other aspects of antebellum life included in this study are friendship, gossip as an agent for controlling behavior, and the social aspects of church attendance. Hansen has made extensive use of diaries and correspondence in developing this study. Highly recommended for scholars and informed lay readers.-Linda McEwan, Elgin Community Coll., Ill.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780520205611
  • Publisher: University of California Press
  • Publication date: 10/19/1996
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 308
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.69 (d)

Meet the Author

Karen V. Hansen is Assistant Professor of Sociology at Brandeis University.

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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations and Tables
Author's Note
1 Making the Social Central: An Introduction 1
2 "I Never Forget What I Remember": Delving into Antebellum New England 29
3 "Unbosom Your Heart": Friendship and the Construction of Gender 52
4 "Social Work": Visiting and the Creation of Community 79
5 "True Opinion Clear of Polish": Gossip, Reputation, and the Community Jury 114
6 "Getting Religion": The Church as a Social Institution 137
Conclusion 165
Appendix A. Sources of Evidence 171
Appendix B. Diarist Information 183
Abbreviations 187
Notes 189
Selected Bibliography 239
Index 257
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