Kelvin Fields 3400:470:001 Fall 03
Robert Bruno: Steel Worker Alley: How Class Works in Youngstown: Ithaca, New York Cornell University 1999. 222pgs.
Beginning in the 1960s, labor history in the United States underwent a rather startling transformation, shifting its focus from historical studies of national economies, labor parties, and institutionalized labor movements to the social, cultural and political history of the working class. The means for this shift included the revitalization of multiple identities of workers through gender, racial, ethnic, and religious lines in order to explore working class experience in communities and localities. To examine the process of class formation, historians look into the records and historical memories of working class neighborhoods, union towns, and small communities.
This method led to the publication of Mr. Robert Bruno's book Steel Worker Alley. The purpose of him writing this book was to contribute to the debate on class-consciousness by examining how the similarity of steelworkers lives on the job, at home and in their neighborhoods created the basis for a shared sense of identity for steelworkers.
Mr. Bruno used methods as racial differences for example he mentions that Youngstown was notorious for its residential redlining towards blacks and segregation throughout some parts in the city.
Bruno uses neighbor relations, he showed that the workers socialized together and helped each other out, and when finances permitted they live closer to one another. Other methods he uses were religious practices (most of the steelworkers were Roman Catholic) leisure (most steelworkers were avid sports fan), union involvement and party politics. All of these factors were necessary to support his argument that the post- World War II working class remained consciously and contentedly distinct from the middle class. Nevertheless steel-working men had a working class identity while they worked which transcended after the plant shut...