Alan Trachtenberg. The Incorporation of America: Culture and Society in the Gilded Age. (American Century Series.) New York: Hill and Wang. Reviewed Work(s): The Incorporation of America: Culture and Society in the Gilded Age. by Alan Trachtenberg. Review by: Helen Lefkowitz Horowitz. Source: . A classic examination of the roots of corporate culture, newly revised and updated for the twenty first century. Alan Trachtenberg presents a.
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Thanks for telling us about the problem. Return to Book Page. The Incorporation of America: A classic examination of the roots of corporate culture, newly revised and updated for the twenty incorporatioj century Alan Trachtenberg presents a balanced analysis of the expansion of capitalist power in the last third tarchtenberg the nineteenth century and anerica cultural changes it brought in its wake.
In America’s westward expansion, labor unrest, newly powerful cities, and newly mechani. In America’s westward expansion, labor unrest, newly powerful cities, and newly mechanized industries, the ideals and ideas by which Americans lived were reshaped, and American society became more structured, with an entrenched middle class and a powerful business elite.
Here, in an updated edition which includes a new introduction and a revised bibliographical essay, is a brilliant, essential work on the origins of America’s corporate culture and the formation of the American social fabric after the Civil War.
Paperback25th Anniversary Editionpages. Published February 6th by Hill and Wang first published March To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. To ask other readers questions about The Incorporation of Americaplease sign up.
Be the first to ask a question about The Incorporation of America. Lists with This Book. Mar 24, Michael Hattem rated it really liked it. The book begins by looking at a number of myths that arose in the wake of the rise of business.
This myth served to obscure the reality of the West as a feeding ground for corporate industrial expansion. In the second chapter, Trachtenberg examines the rise of mechanization, which, when combined with the myth of the West, came to represent progress.
The Incorporation of America: Culture and Society in the Gilded Age by Alan Trachtenberg
The pace of technological innovation contributed to the sense of helplessness, uncertainty, and disquieting flux caused by the cyclical economy, primarily its downturn in the s. Americans sought to come to grips with mechanization through organizing, but also through fiction and folklore. Myths about the virtue of productivity and progress and metaphorical relations with mechanization obscured the evils of the reality of rapid mechanization and incorporation, including such un-American features as increased social stratification and decreased individual autonomy.
For Trachtenberg, the railroad, which established time zones without legislation, is the perfect example of the power of the combination of incorporation and mechanization. Incorporation also institutionalized knowledge and fragmented it through specialization.
Yet, this was obscured by the myth of Edison, who, in reality, was not a throwback to Benjamin Franklin but the beginnings of modern industrial research. The end result was significant changes in the distribution of knowledge and mechanized mode of thought.
Most importantly, in this fight over values, the state came down on the side of capital to the point of inflicting violence on its own citizens. This conflict gave rise to the idea of the collective voice; the corporation spoke as a voice which evaded liability in contrast with the unions, whose culture developed as a conscious alternative to the culture of competitive individualism, of acquisitiveness and segregation.
Chapter 4 explores the role of the city in further entrenching American incorporation. The home, the workplace, and the marketplace became incorporated into the urban network designed for production and consumption.
This design included strict class segregation and constant visibility of the symbols of the new corporate order, most notably, the department store. The department store and the urban marketplace in general, with the help of advertising, which sought to obfuscate the relationship between production and consumption. As the most visible social expression of the relations between capital alab labor, the great city came to embody the reciprocal Marxian relations between production and consumption in their most acute form.
Consumption emerged as the hidden purpose of cities. At the same time, populism arose as a reaction to the corporate control of politics, but it was swallowed up in the deep swaths cut by ethnic and religious diversity. Again, Trachtenberg sees political conflict in this period as a struggle over the soul of the American Self. This is an impressive work in many ways. First, not only is its conception of culture broad, so is its application.
He shows how incorporation was a structural cultural phenomenon. Furthermore, he shows how despite its attempts at consolidation, it fostered cultural conflict in various political, economic, and cultural arenas, most fundamentally between labor and capital. Trachtenberg also illustrates how the broader trachtenbery and upheaval of social, political, and economic relations manifested itself in popular culture. Finally, it demonstrates how incorporation and the rise of corporate culture changed the way Americans viewed themselves, their country, and their world.
But, in the end, this is a book about the death of the original Tne ideology. Though the political th of Jeffersonian republicanism, which was built o individualism, widespread property-holding, equality, and suspicion of concentrated wealth and unproductivity, had occurred decades earlier, its, perhaps more important, cultural death occurred in the Gilded Age at the hands of incorporation. This is both ironic and tragic in two ways.
Second, inJefferson had emerged the victor in the winner-take-all-sweepstakes that was a struggle over the identity and future vision of America with Federalist corporatist, Alexander Hamilton. But more than a half century after their deaths, the battle over the American identity and future would te fought again and this time Jefferson would lose by proxy.
The Incorporation of America: Culture and Society in the Gilded Age
This contrast draws out how by icnorporation end of the nineteenth century corporate culture displaced the republican culture of the founding and of Lincoln, perhaps the last major political figure representative of the Jeffersonian tradition, whose own Republican Party assisted in its downfall.
Incorporation is a metaphor resting on reductionist foundations, but it supports well-worked details. Jan 19, Jack rated it really liked it Shelves: I don’t share the author’s clearly socialist sympathies, but this book really defines the strengths and possibilities of cultural history. In a series of thoughtfully-constructed and highly readable chapters, Trachtenberg explains how nearly all elements of late 19th-century American life — everything from U.
Truly fascinat I don’t share the author’s clearly socialist sympathies, but this book really defines the strengths and possibilities of cultural history. Truly fascinating stuff, and a must-read for students specializing in the history of the Gilded Age.
This is an trachtenberrg well, mid year front runner for best book I’ve read all year. It is also one of the first books I’ve read that I purchased solely based on an Amazon.
Kudos to you Amazon. I’m quite sure I could have lived the entire rest of my life and never had any one recommend this book to me in causal or non-casual conversation. Trachtenburg, a Professor of American Studies, picks up where author This is an early well, mid year front runner for best book I’ve read all year. Trying to analyze the ways in which America became the nation it is today.
Although he approaches his thesis ellipitcally in true American Studies fashionit is hard to deny the power trachtennerg his observations.
In tfachtenberg simplest terms, Trachtenberg attempts to show the way in which the corporation became the dominant force in shaping American identity. Importantly, he does not treat this development as a foregone conclusion. THrought the book, he develops the idea of a counter definition of America, one that draws on the tradition of Indian culture and American Populism, to show how much incorporatioon corporation had to overcome in order to dominate America’s definition of itself.
Along the way, he tackles not only the history of the corporation itself, but the way business took over the political system and the way corporate america co-opted the artistic elite. It is this last observation, which Trachtenberg describes via his incredible analysis of the “White City” at the Chicago World’s Fair, that I found most revelatory.
Mar 06, DoctorM rated it really liked it Shelves: A classic look at the changes in American society during the s the years tne Twain’s “Gilded Age”, the the years of railway expansion and labour violence and the emergence of the alna as a key feature of the American economy.
Trachtenberg looks at the shifting of meaning zlan the Ameica view of labour the ways in which the pre Republican ideal of “free labour”, the ideal of the autonomous skilled labourer who would one day be a proprietor and a property owner was replace A classic look at the changes in American society during the teh the years of Twain’s “Gilded Age”, the the years of railway expansion and labour violence and the emergence of the corporation as a key feature of the American amerjca.
Trachtenberg looks at the shifting of meaning within the American view of labour the ways in which the pre Republican ideal of “free labour”, lf ideal of the autonomous skilled labourer who would one day be a proprietor and a property owner was replaced by a view of “labour” as wage work, done by an unskilled and often foreign i.
Trachtenberg also looks at the ways in which the old, Emersonian sense of American promise was replaced by the fear amongst older elites that “republican virtue” and Protestant ascendancy would be replaced by a “European” world of urban class conflict. The book was pertinent enough in the early s, and it’s all the more worth reading now. May 15, Ernie rated it liked it Shelves: While a touch dry at moments, and oddly organized, Incorporatiob gives a nuanced, in-depth aan at the culture and ideas of the early decades of 20th century America.
A classic of cultural history. Jul 11, Dan Gorman rated it it was amazing Shelves: Excellent collection of essays on the Gilded Age and the United States’s transition from a regional to a national, industrialized economy. Trachtenberg captures the effects of incorporation throughout society.
In rough sequence, industrialization led to the need for more raw materials, the rise of private corporations with shareholders, the proliferation of such corporations, the standardization of time, the government’s favorable business connections under successive Republican presidents, the Excellent collection of essays on the Gilded Age and the United States’s transition from a regional to a national, industrialized economy.
In rough sequence, industrialization led to the need for more raw materials, the rise of private corporations incorporatkon shareholders, the proliferation of such corporations, trachtenber standardization of time, the government’s favorable business connections under successive Republican presidents, the shift from Ttachtenberg laboring at home to consuming goods from stores, and the first efficiency experts.
A variety of cultural responses ensued. Bourgeois Americans championed their corporations while still clinging to some Victorian beliefs, particularly edifying entertainments and the patriarchal family.
Wealthy women became incorporatkon in museums, but their talk of spreading art to the working and middle classes belied the elite standards of taste encoded within museums. Others flocked to the Chautauqua movement, which mixed lectures and rustic activities to forge a middlebrow and middle-class identity, linking republicanism and industrial progress. Still other Americans, upset with the trend of industrialization, withdrew into antimodern art and spiritualism.
Overall, Trachtenberg makes the persuasive claim that incorporation dominated the Gilded Age, but te transformation of the economy provoked strong pushback. This book illuminates the major cultural cleavages of a tumultuous age. Good for classroom use, general introduction to the Gilded Age, and Ph.
May 01, Mike Hankins rated it liked it Shelves: The sweeping changes in technology, society, politics, and business in the latter half of the nineteenth century are fairly obvious to most observers and well-trodden in the historiography.
However, Alan Trachtenberg’s The Incorporation of America provides fresh insight into the period through his study of culture, with specific attention to the tension between the cultural impetus of the lower class as opposed to the middle and upper classes. Trachtenberg’s main contention is that the growing n The sweeping changes in technology, society, politics, and business in the latter yhe of the nineteenth century are fairly obvious to most observers and well-trodden in the historiography.
Trachtenberg’s main contention is that the growing number and power of large corporations tore America away from its familiar values, and these changes manifested themselves sharply in cultural elements of society.
This clearly generated significant opposition. Trachtenberg begins his study with Frederick Jackson Turner’s frontier thesis. The untamed West was trachtneberg symbol of American values, Thomas Jefferson’s agrarian ideal, and the rugged individualism that the frontier encouraged.