Chapter

Boom Land

in Restless Nation

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print November 2000 | ISBN: 9780226394787
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226394732 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7208/chicago/9780226394732.003.0005
Boom Land

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Government policies and economic structures underlie boomtowns, however, as surely as they underlie immigration. Men come to boomtowns because companies and local governments publicize the riches to be found there, igniting a general hysteria about the possibility of great wealth. For many immigrants, as for most boomtowners, the economic dream looks like a lottery, in which everyone has a chance to strike it rich. This may still require virtue or hustle, but sudden fortunes can spark the imagination in a way that slow accumulation cannot. Migration encourages a boomtown mentality, and the two share a central goal: to do whatever it takes to make one's way in society. This may simply involve finding one's proper place in the social order (this is the preindustrial version), or it may mean economic advancement (this is the industrial version). With the closing of the frontier, the focus has shifted to mobility within the economic hierarchy, finding a new place in the status system.

Keywords: immigration; boomtowns; government policies; economic structure; social order; mobility

Chapter.  13312 words. 

Subjects: Social and Cultural History

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