Labor History Seminar: S. Paul O’Hara, Xavier University

Labor History Seminar
Friday, April 18, 2008

3:00 pm to 5:00 pm

“Working-Class Utopia: Work, Masculinity, and Vice in Post-war Gary, Indiana”
S. Paul O’Hara, Xavier University
Despite the national reputation of Gary, Indiana, as an industrial dystopia of crime, corruption and decay, the city’s residents created a community of hard work and ethnic loyalty. The workers of Gary built their identity around a working-class masculinity that embraced hard work, constant pollution, toughness, vice, and corruption. In so doing, the narratives became descriptions not of industrial dystopia but rather industrial utopia on working-class terms. While this class identity stood in contrast to postwar domesticity, suburbanization, and the middle-class company man, it also excluded other residents from this culture of work.

Commentators: Marc Rodriguez, Notre Dame University, and Robert Bruno, University of Illinois at Chicago