Visions of Modernity: American Business and the Modernization of Germany / Edition 1

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In much the same way that Japan has become the focus of contemporary American discussion about industrial restructuring, Germans in the economic reform in terms of Americanism and Fordism, seeing in the United States an intriguing vision for a revitalized economy and a new social order.

During the 1920s, Germans were fascinated by American economic success and its quintessential symbols, Henry Ford and his automobile factories. Mary Nolan's book explores the contradictory ways in which trade unionists and industrialists, engineers and politicians, educators and social workers explained American economic success, envisioned a more efficient or "rationalized" economic system for Germany, and anguished over the social and cultural costs of adopting the American version of modernity. These debates about Americanism and Fordism deeply shaped German perceptions of what was economically and socially possible and desirable in terms of technology and work, family and gender relations, consumption and culture. Nolan examines efforts to transform production and consumption, factories and homes, and argues that economic Americanism was implemented ambivalently and incompletely, producing, in the end, neither prosperity nor political stability.

Vision of Modernity will appeal not only to scholars of German History and those interested in European social and working-class history, but also to industrial sociologists and business scholars.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Mary Nolan's keenly awaited book on rationalization is a timely reminder that economics is too important to be left to the economists alone...The book shows beautifully the necessary interrelationship of business history, labor history, and women's history for an understanding of this complex field of questions, and makes an unanswerable case for the mainstreaming of the concerns pioneered during the last two decades by women's history."—Geoff Eley, Department of History, University of Michigan

"An excellent economic, political, social, and cultural history of how Weimar Germany "Germanized" its perceptions of Americanism both conceptually and in practice."—Choice

"Nolan's nuanced attention to the class politics and conflicts underlying the reception of Americanism and the articulation of German rationalization prompts an important rethinking and rewriting of the dramatic story of labor and capital during the Weimar Republic. Nolan offers compelling insights... Nolan's excellent study offers rich and persuasive evidence that rationalization created new divisions within the German working class while intensifying old ones...a notable expansion of the still-underdeveloped field of German gender is certain to become a classic for a wide audience of historians."—International Labor and Working Class History

"...With the wealth of information it contains on a fascinating, albeit ultimately ill-fated, attempt at modernization, the book will be a valuable resource for students of German history, culture, and politics."—Journal of Modern History

"...a fascinating read. [The book] represents an exciting approach to history writing that escapes easy categorization and that illuminates interconnections and intersections among the realms of economy, society, politics, and culture..."—Central European History

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195088755
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 8/28/1994
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 336
  • Lexile: 1700L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 6.13 (w) x 9.19 (h) x 0.88 (d)

Table of Contents

1 Introduction 3
2 Journeys to America 17
3 The Infatuation with Fordism 30
4 American Economic Success and German Emulation 58
5 Work, Workers, and the Workplace in America 83
6 The Cultural Consequences of Americanism 108
7 The Paradoxes of Productivism 131
8 Winners and Losers 154
9 Engineering the New Worker 179
10 Housework Made Easy 206
Epilogue 227
Notes 237
Bibliographic Essay 307
Index 314
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