Labor's love lost: The influence of gender, race, and *class on the workplace in post-war America

2008 2008

Other formats: Order a copy

Abstract (summary)

This project reexamines questions of labor history in the United States. It traces the story of people who worked for three large defense manufacturers in Long Island from the 1930s to the 1970s. Race, class, and gender had a profound impact on identity formation and decision making for the workers of Grumman Corporation, Republic Aviation, and Sperry Gyroscope. This project contributes to the history of labor relations by reexamining the question of declining unionization rates in the U.S. following World War II. In addition to generally recognized factors such as deindustrialization and anti-union campaigns, this study assesses the role that gender, class, and race played in the decision of some workers to reject unions. In particular, femininity and masculinity were mutually constitutive categories that influenced the way men and women thought about themselves, the workplace, and organized labor. One significant contribution relates to the impact of masculinities on male workers’ identities, which in turn shaped preconceptions regarding unions. Many men at Grumman resisted union campaigns because they perceived that membership would impinge upon their ability to define the workplace as a rough, masculine space. In practice, this meant that workers at Grumman feared that joining a union would reduce their autonomy within the workplace, while simultaneously weakening their job security. In other words, joining a union was actually perceived as emasculating. Union organizers had to combat these gender anxieties as they fought to recruit workers at other locations such as Republic. Defending the workplace as a manly domain reinforced existing ideas about the male worker’s identity and place in a changing social order. Some men and women embraced the emerging social order of the 1960s and 1970s, while others responded equivocally.

Indexing (details)

American history;
Gender studies
0337: American history
0510: Economics
0733: Gender studies
Identifier / keyword
Social sciences; Aircraft; Class; Cultural history; Gender; Labor history; Long Island; Masculinity; New York; Postwar; Race; Workplace
Labor's love lost: The influence of gender, race, and *class on the workplace in post-war America
Patnode, Stephen Raymond
Number of pages
Publication year
Degree date
School code
DAI-A 69/12, Dissertation Abstracts International
Place of publication
Ann Arbor
Country of publication
United States
State University of New York at Stony Brook
University location
United States -- New York
Source type
Dissertations & Theses
Document type
Dissertation/thesis number
ProQuest document ID
Database copyright ProQuest LLC; ProQuest does not claim copyright in the individual underlying works.
Document URL
Access the complete full text

You can get the full text of this document if it is part of your institution's ProQuest subscription.

Try one of the following:

  • Connect to ProQuest through your library network and search for the document from there.
  • Request the document from your library.
  • Go to the ProQuest login page and enter a ProQuest or My Research username / password.