Working-Class Manhood

Since the late eighteenth century, conceptions of working-class manhood have emphasized workers' independence, but the meanings of independence have changed greatly over time. Early definitions of independent working-class manhood focused on property ownership and craft skills. By the latter part of the nineteenth century, working-class manhood stressed the ability to provide comfortably for a family while skill level remained important. In the twentieth century, working-class manhood became more firmly associated with the male breadwinner norm, and less with highly skilled work. Changes in the workforce, however, as well as the decline of the organized labor movement after the post–World War II era, have complicated popular conceptions of working-class manhood, depicting it as physically weak and dependent—as well as strong and independent.

Artisanal Manhood

In the late eighteenth ...

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