History Development of Work in America Revisited
Review what you posted in the introductory discussion – on how you feel that work has developed in America – then restate your opinion based on what you have learned in the course.
Click here to review the discussion rubric, which will be used in evaluating your discussion posts.
Image at right: A cleanup man at main entrance of the Bethlehem Steel Co. plant removes debris on Nov. 7, 1959 in Bethlehem, Pa. United Steelworkers of Americahad been on strike since July 15 over wages and were ordered back to work today, after 116 days. (AP Photo) Intro Discussion:
Factors Shaping Work in Early America
In America, the work system has undergone various changes during the transition from early America work to modern work. The changes have resulted from the legal, institutional, geographical and individual aspects among others that are involved as people undertake work. However, some aspects were more critical than others in facilitating employment development in America concerning post-industrial and pre-industrial period.
Gender was among the factors shaping the early American work. Early American employment was viewed as masculine and women were to be at home and tend the children, the farm, and the husband. However, some jobs such as sewing were viewed to be feminine. The
Labor unions were involved in voicing the demands of the employees to the relevant authorities. The political leaders were looked upon to rise from the working class as they had diverse ideas and were insightful in the political realm hence they sought employee freedom (Cowie 3). With time, the political leaders gave attention to the working class population by involving them in the politics and allowing their voice in the society to be heard. As workers became aware of their rights, the slaves resisted their duties and sought their freedom. Most of the people worked in America as opposed to working in foreign countries.
In the colonial era, the institutional set up restrained the woman to domestic chores causing her to be dependent due to financial constraints. However, the industrial revolution saw more women in jobs outside household chores. The agrarian lifestyle had a good grip on pre-industrial American work. Also, age was a factor where the employers hired children since they availed labor at low cost. The religious beliefs caused the injustice in the workplace receive criticism by various religious groups. The family factor played a role in concentrating wealth to few families and leaving the rest in poverty. In the pre-industrial era, the legal system taxed all workers apart from clergymen and nobility.
In the 21st century, the labor unions continue to be vital in gearing employee’s liberalization in the business world which is highly globalized and high capital mobility. Nature of work has also changed dramatically with reduced manual work as a result of high technological innovations (Cowie 3). Also, some American citizens work beyond the American borders with a good number of non-Americans working in America. Currently, very few Americans are in cultivation since most of the Americans are literate and can secure jobs in the industries. People have adopted the art of saving and can afford luxury with most people living in the urban setup. The current workplace and employment are characterized by high creativity and innovation as firms seek competitive advantage.
Gender is the most impactful factor in shaping work and employment development since it receives greater focus in both eras where gender equality interests labor, legal and political sector. Although some women engaged in paid labor to avail financial support to their families, their economic operation was strained as they received low pays. The periods between 18220 t0 1850 was characterized by more working women that led to increased opportunities, which enhanced empowerment. However, poverty did not cease as men argued that women should stick to domestic chores as men get better workplace conditions to avail the appropriate support to their families (Stansell 4). As economic periods change, more women are in paid labor, they seek equal treatment at workplace. More women have risen to seek zero discrimination against women in the workplace, and democratic receive more votes from women as they stand for women rights.
Works Cited
Cowie, Jefferson. Stayin’alive: the 1970s and the last days of the working class. The New Press, 2010. Print.
Stansell, Christine. City of women: Sex and Class in New York, 1789-1860. University of Illinois Press, 1987. Print.
All Class Course readings:
Module Title and Readings / Viewings Start
Date End
Date Learning Activities and Due Dates
1. Working in Early America
Readings:
Dubofsky and Dulles, chapters 1 and 2
Stansell, Part 1 (Chapters 1 and 2)
Rees and Pollack, Introduction and pages 1 to 24; Billy G. Smith, Walking Moraley’s Streets, Philadelphia May 18 June 7 Icebreaker Discussion:
Discussion starts:
May 18
Discussion ends: May 24
M1 D1 Factors shaping work in America
Discussion starts: May 25
Discussion ends: June 7
M1 A1 Assignment: Economic Status in Colonial America
Due: June 7
2. Living and Working in the Nineteenth-Century
Readings:
Dulles and Dubofsky, chapters 3 to 6
Stansell, part 3 (chapters 6 to 8);
Ress and Pollack, pages 25 to 66;
Currarino,”Meat vs. Rice” June 8 June 21 M2 D1 Impact of slavery and urbanization on work in America
Discussion starts: June 8
Discussion ends:
June 21
M2 A1 Assignment: Document Analysis: Views on Chinese Labor in the 19th Century
Due: June 21
3. The Emergence of the Modern Workplace
Readings:
Dubofsky and Dulles, chapters 7 to 11
Rees and Pollack, pages 67 to 146;
Video: PBS the American Experience on the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire (53 min.) June 22 July 12 M3 D1 The South and Modern Corporations
Discussion starts: June 22
Discussion ends:
July 12
M3 A1 Assignment: The Labor Question
Due: July 12
4. Modern Workers’ Movements
Readings:
Dubofsky and Dulles, chapters 12 to 18
Rees and Pollack, pages 147 to 184;
Video on Rosie the Riveter Images (14 min.);
Karen Tucker Anderson, Last Hired, First Fired July 13 July 26 M4 D1 Labor Policy and Working-Class America
Discussion starts: July 13
Discussion ends:
July 26
M4 A1 Assignment: Document Analysis: Rosie the Riveter Images
Due: July 26
5. Living and Working in Post-World War II America
Readings:
Dulles and Dubofsky, chapters 19 to 21;
Cowie, Introduction, Chapter 1, Chapter 4 and Chapter 7;
Rees and Pollack, pages 185 to 224 July 27 August 9 M5 D1 Labor Movement from Late 1940s to 2000
Discussion starts: July 27
Discussion ends: August 9
M5 A1 Assignment: Labor-themed Film Review
Due: August 9
6. Looking Back and Looking Forward
Readings:
Dulles and Dubofsky, chapter 22;
Cowie, chapters 6 and 8;
Rees and Pollack, pages 225 to 246;
Nelson Lichtenstein video lecture on Wal-Mart and the “Retail Revolution” August 10 August 28 M6 D1 Development of Work in America Revisited
Discussion starts: August 10
Discussion ends:
August 28
M6 A1 Assignment: Impact of Historical Developments on Today’s Workplaces and Economy
Due: August 28
Teacher Note:
This week we begin our final module in this course. We will cover the late 20th century into the 21st century. The challenge for each of you in this module is to keep your historian’s gaze at the forefront, even as you analyze events that have happened during your lifetimes.
In fact, this level of analysis is what is at the heart of this module’s reading assignment. You are asked to reflect on how developments in labor history have impacted today’s economy and workplace. You won’t be able to cover everything, of course! The best essays will be those that pick one element or topic to explore. Note that you are required to use as a primary source a current news report. You might choose the shift to part-time, contingent work, for example. Or you might choose to examine the rise of “contractor” work, like Uber. Many of you might be interested to examine an element of how women’s role in today’s workforce has been impacted by historical developments. You have creative license to craft a short essay which shows off your historical analysis skills. Please use Class reading sites for references.

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