Reforming Urban Labor: Routes to the City, Roots in the Country by Janet L. PolaskyReforming Urban Labor: Routes to the City, Roots in the Country by Janet L. Polasky

Reforming Urban Labor: Routes to the City, Roots in the Country

byJanet L. Polasky

Hardcover | December 2, 2010

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Reforming Urban Labor is a history of the nineteenth-century social reforms designed by middle-class progressives to domesticate the labor force. Industrial production required a concentrated labor force, but the swelling masses of workers in the capitals of Britain and Belgium, the industrial powerhouses of Europe, threatened urban order. At night, after factories had closed, workers and their families sheltered in the shadowy alleyways of Brussels and London. Reformers worked to alleviate the danger, dispersing the laborers and their families throughout the suburbs and the countryside. National governments subsidized rural housing construction and regulated workmen's trains to transport laborers nightly away from their urban work sites and to bring them back again in the mornings; municipalities built housing in the suburbs. On both sides of the Channel, respectable working families were removed from the rookeries and isolated from the marginally employed, planted out beyond the cities where they could live like, but not with, the middle classes.

In Janet L. Polasky's urban history, comparisons of the two capitals are interwoven in the context of industrial Europe as a whole. Reforming Urban Labor sets urban planning against the backdrop of idealized rural images, links transportation and housing reform, investigates the relationship of middle-class reformers with industrial workers and their families, and explores the cooperation as well as the competition between government and the private sector in the struggle to control the built environment and its labor force.

Title:Reforming Urban Labor: Routes to the City, Roots in the CountryFormat:HardcoverDimensions:264 pages, 9.25 × 6.13 × 0.31 inPublished:December 2, 2010Publisher:Cornell University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0801447941

ISBN - 13:9780801447945

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Table of Contents


1. A "Sprawling" City of "Outcast Masses": Overcrowded Capitals
2. "Give Men Homes, and They Will Have Soft and Homely Notions": Reformers' Schemes for Housing Urban Workers
3. "Network of Iron Rails": Workmen’s Trains
4. "Le Cottage": Pastoral Villages and Tidy Suburbs
5. "Charged by the Workingmen, Pelted and Charged Again": The Politics of Reform
6. "With Morality Brimming Forth": Rooted Workers and Their Families
7. "To Live Like Everyone Else": Commuting Labor, 1918–2010


Editorial Reviews

"Reforming Urban Labor is a milestone in comparative urban history. Janet L. Polasky weaves a masterly account of the movement to reform the working classes in London and Brussels. Superbly researched, the book portrays the idealized suburban images of quaint cottages, good housekeeping, and affordable commuter trains imagined as the site of citizenship and social improvement for the teaming masses of the city. Well-written and erudite, Reforming Urban Labor is a must-read in European urban history."—Rosemary Wakeman, Fordham University Lincoln Center