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Queen's University

Department of History

History Professor Rosanne Currarino Publishes The Labor Question in America

Associate Professor, Rosanne Currarino publishes her first book The Labor Question in America: Economic Democracy in the Gilded Age.

This book traces the struggle to define the nature of democratic life in an era of industrial strife. As Americans confronted the glaring disparity between democracy's promises of independence and prosperity and the grim realities of economic want and wage labour, they asked, "What should constitute full participation in American society? What standard of living should citizens expect and demand?" Currarino examines the diverse efforts to answer to these questions, from the fledgling trade union movement to contests over immigration, from economic theory to popular literature, from legal debates to social reform. The contradictory answers that emerged -- one stressing economic participation in a consumer society, the other emphasizing property ownership and self-reliance -- remain pressing today as contemporary scholars, journalists, and social critics grapple with the meaning of democracy in post-industrial America.

"This splendidly researched cultural and intellectual history offers a masterful explanation of the move from a producerist to a consumerist understanding of citizenship and labor. The Labor Question in America will be widely read by students and scholars." -- Lawrence M. Lipin, author of Workers and the Wild: Conservation, Consumerism, and Labor in Oregon, 1910-30


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