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Worked Over: The Corporate Sabotage of an American Community (Paperback)
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Worked Over: The Corporate Sabotage of an American Community (Paperback)

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£18.99
Paperback 224 Pages / Published: 11/03/2003
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Worked Over is a book about large-scale social change seen at close range, through the lives of generations of working people in a small manufacturing center along New York State's old Erie Canal. Their compelling stories add a new dimension to current debates over corporate power and the public good. Dimitra Doukas draws on ten years of ethnographic and historical research on the Mohawk River Valley towns of Herkimer, Illion, Frankfort, and Mohawk, where the Remington company, maker of arms and typewriters among other things, was for many years the backbone of a thriving regional society. Corporate takeover of the varied Remington enterprises in 1886 sent shock waves through this society, ushering in a century of social distress and decreasing political autonomy. Since the 1970s, the area has suffered mightily from deindustrialization. Local experience, Doukas finds, has shaped an American culture of strongly egalitarian ideals. From this perspective, the region's present plight appears, to many in the region, as a betrayal of American values. Knitting together the ethnographic present, the remembered past, and the historical past, the author tracks today's discontent to the dawn of the modern corporate era for a revealing and intimate look at the rise of a new political and economic power structure.

Publisher: Cornell University Press
ISBN: 9780801488610
Number of pages: 224
Weight: 340 g
Dimensions: 229 x 152 x 12 mm


MEDIA REVIEWS

"Doukas argues that the culture of the villagers of central New York is based on the gospel of work and the egalitarianism, mutual aid, and respect for labor that it entails. That culture is directly opposed to leaders' gospel of wealth and the political and institutional structures it demands. How can there be such massive contradictions' Doukas documents how corporations imposed the cultural revolution with threats and the practices of economic violence and created local, regional, state, and national political structures to aid them. The author tells how a corporate conspiracy rewrote the American dream to create our current nightmare of unemployment, job insecurity, undercompensation, unavailability of health care, lack of control of our governments, death of democracy, and lack of space to even grow our own food and livestock.... She shows just how far we can go using our American language without making up words. That's one reason this is a good book. Consciousness of her use of the language, experience, and data are others. This is a book all of our students need to read and understand in order to know about their own lives and about the power of ethnography as well as the power of corporations. This is a book we all need to understand and discuss."

-- Paul Durrenberger, Penn State University * Journal of Anthropological Research *

"Dimitra Doukas's Worked Over is a good example of the innovative work from the emerging field called New Working-Class Studies.... The book begins by viewing the Mohawk Valley as, in a sense, a geographic stronghold for a social class. Valley residents disassociate themselves from nearby communities by rejecting values based on consumption and hierarchy.... Worked Over uses ethnography, history, and geography to study working-class life and culture."

-- John Russo, Youngstown State University * Industrial and Labor Relations Review *

"Doukas makes an important contribution to our understanding of the political disaffection so widely felt and expressed by working-class people. Worked Over is engagingly written and full of thought-provoking material."

-- Michael Zweig, Director of The Group for the Study of Working Class Life at SUNY/Stony Brook

"Doukas tells the fascinating history of the Remingtons and their enterprises and how they were taken over by corporate trusts around 1886. That takeover, she argues, began an era of social distress and declining political autonomy that continues to the present day."

-- Mat Rapacz * Evening Times *

"Doukas's depiction of an economic worldview opposed to unrestrained, aggressive corporate capitalism is familiar to many sociologists and labor historians, but her effort to document it today and draw links to the past is instructive and meaningful.... Worked Over is eloquently written and cogently argued, and Doukas's measured passion and sprinkling of sardonic humor in the historical chapters bring a refreshing tone to her insightful book."

* Contemporary Sociology *

"Global capitalism being what it is, there is no research topic more important to humankind than the study of the relationship between corporations and the communities that sustain them and are sustained by them."

-- James P. Walsh, University of Michigan * Administrative Science Quarterly *

"Too often the social implications of the transformation from proprietary to managerial capitalism are overlooked, despite the dramatic impact that this development can have on the structure and well-being of a community.... Doukas draws on ethnographic and historical sources to paint her picture of the plight of the people in the Mohawk River Valley. Her book provides an excellent historical account of the development of the Remington works from its founding until the time of its sale to Hartley and Graham in 1886."

-- Daniel Friel, New York University * Enterprise and Society *

"Worked Over is a captivating story about the transformations of regional capitalism and the impact of hit-and-run corporate capitalism on ordinary working Americans. This is ethnography at its best. With no holds barred, Doukas pulls the democratic challenge down to earth."

-- Laura Nader, University of California, Berkeley

"Worked Over is an ambitious book that succeeds very well. It should be required reading for all progressive political activists."

-- Janet Siskind, Rutgers University

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