Title

Archaeologies of Working-Class Culture and Collective Action

Publication Date

3-1-2020

Document Type

Article

Department

Anthropology

Publication Title

International Journal of Historical Archaeology

Volume

24

Issue

1

DOI

10.1007/s10761-019-00508-9

First Page

183

Last Page

202

Abstract

The nineteenth-century emergence of an American working class is studied by historians as an abstract awareness of shared experiences grounded in material conditions and concrete reality (Oestreicher 1986). Historical archaeology is appropriate to track the rise in class consciousness through: (1) shared material culture in workers’ domestic lives; (2) archaeological or archival evidence for class distinctions and hierarchical dissent; and (3) material evidence, archival and oral histories of working-class efforts to affect change through labor organizing or political action. These markers of class consciousness are compared among historical sites of labor contestation, and used to understand experiences of workers in the company town of Mono Mills, California. Identification of a working-class culture contributes to theorizing how class structures crosscut differences (e.g., ethnic, gendered, and racial) as well as built solidarity in opposition to other tiers of the labor hierarchy.

Keywords

Collective action, Labor, Social identities, Working class

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