Steelworker Alley


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How Class Works in Youngstown

By Robert Bruno
Cornell University Press

For retired steelworkers in Youngstown, Ohio, the label “working class” fits comfortably. Questioning the widely held view that laborers in postwar America have adopted middle-class values, Robert Bruno shows that in this community a blue-collar identity has provided a positive focus for many residents. The son of a Youngstown steelworker, Bruno returned to his hometown seeking to understand the formation of his own working-class consciousness and the place of labor in the larger capitalist society. Drawing on interviews with dozens of former steelworkers and on research in local archives, Bruno explores the culture of the community, including such subjects as relations among co-workers, class antagonism, and attitudes toward authority. He describes how, because workers are often neighbors, the workplace takes on a feeling of neighborhood. He also demonstrates that to understand class consciousness one must look beyond the workplace, in this instance from Youngstown’s front porches to its bowling alleys and voting booths. Written with a deeply personal approach, Steelworker Alley is a richly detailed look at workers which reveals the continuing strength of class relationships in America.

Steelworker Alley calls into question the idea that American workers have become middle-class. At least in places like Robert Bruno’s hometown in Ohio, where workers live in neighborhoods adjacent to the place of work, a pervasive consciousness of class appears to have survived into the 1990s. Bruno’s work will inspire other young working-class intellectuals to explore as participant observers how, in their own families and communities, ‘class consciousness emerged as a way of life.'”–Staughton Lynd, author of Solidarity Unionism and Labor Law for the Rank and Filer

Additional information

Weight 11.7 oz
Dimensions 9 × 6 × 0.75 in


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