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Type: Journal article
Title: Class sentiments: putting the emotion back in working-class history
Author: Buchanan, T.
Citation: Journal of Social History, 2014; 48(1):72-87
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Issue Date: 2014
ISSN: 0022-4529
Statement of
Thomas C. Buchanan
Abstract: The article argues that the unstable emotional cultures of nineteenth-century America can help explain the dynamic labor conflicts of the century. Further, it argues that the Civil War, and the strike waves of the postbellum period, be considered emotional revolutions. Drawing on examples from the history of enslavement, and the discourse surrounding wage labor strikes, particularly the Homestead strike, the article shows how workers in different settings, used their emotions to guide themselves toward the emotional liberty promised by the American Revolution. Enslaved people faced a remarkably restrictive regime, but the combination of the emotional refuge of the quarters, and the opportunities provided by sentimental culture, fuelled a resistance movement. Northern workers, who faced a regime less restrictive than twentieth-century wage workers would encounter, similarly relied on the interplay between sentimental emotional ideas and their more tempestuous emotional culture to mount a protest movement. Both movements relied on anger, but one difference was that middle-class northerners were less receptive to waged workers’ anger than they had been to enslaved anger. The article concludes by suggesting that emotions should be integrated more fully into discussions of class politics in history more broadly, with greater analysis of how emotional regimes, communities, and resistance movements, evolve along with the political economy.
Rights: © The Author 2014. Published by Oxford University Press. All rights reserved.
DOI: 10.1093/jsh/shu044
Appears in Collections:Aurora harvest 3
History publications

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