Chapter

Head and Hand The Mechanics’ Institute Movement and the Conception of Class Authority

Stephen P. Rice

in Minding the Machine

Published by University of California Press

Published in print August 2004 | ISBN: 9780520227811
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520926578 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1525/california/9780520227811.003.0003
Head and Hand The Mechanics’ Institute Movement and the Conception of Class Authority

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This chapter examines the role of the mechanics' institute movement on the conception of class authority in America during the beginning of the nineteenth century. During this period, mechanics' institutes became crucial venues in which participants in the popular discourse on mechanization struggled to define the complex and increasingly social (and contentious) relations between mental labor and manual labor. Thus, despite their egalitarian rhetoric of popular education, proponents of mechanics' institutes helped to formulate a harmonious language of class that was difficult to challenge and that worked to codify the social authority of a new middle class of manufacturers and managers.

Keywords: mechanics' institutes; class authority; America; early industrial period; mechanization; popular discourse; language of class; social authority; middle class; manufacturers

Chapter.  13636 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of the Americas

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