Chapter

The Decline and Fall of Hobohemia

in Citizen Hobo

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print September 2003 | ISBN: 9780226143781
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226143804 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7208/chicago/9780226143804.003.0006
The Decline and Fall of Hobohemia

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This chapter discusses the decline and fall of hobohemia. World War I had not only prompted a devastating crackdown on hobo political organizations, it had also accelerated long-term social and economic trends that diminished the need for hobo labor. As mainstream populations grew older and more sedentary, they bore witness to changes prompted in part by hobohemia itself. Economic imperatives, new technologies, and demographic trends drove modernization on the wageworkers' frontier, and in the nation at large in the early twentieth century. The shift in the road's racial complexion resulted from the efforts of not only employers and their hiring agents, but also a new generation of industrial relations experts who approached the problem of hobo labor as a crisis of nationhood, as well as industry. To most scholarly observers of the postwar era, hobohemia was merely the tip of an iceberg, a peculiarly flamboyant expression of the estrangement and rootlessness endemic to industrial workers generally.

Keywords: hobohemia; hobo labor; hobo political organizations; industrial workers; industrial relations

Chapter.  10104 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of the Americas

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