Details

ISBN-10: 0231208820
ISBN-13: 9780231208826
Publisher: Columbia University Press
Publish Date: 09/19/2023
Dimensions: 8.50" L, 5.40" W, 1.20" H

Rust Belt Union Blues: Why Working-Class Voters Are Turning Away from the Democratic Party

Hardcover

Price: $26.95

Overview

In the heyday of American labor, the influence of local unions extended far beyond the workplace. Unions were embedded in tight-knit communities, touching nearly every aspect of the lives of members–mostly men–and their families and neighbors. They conveyed fundamental worldviews, making blue-collar unionists into loyal Democrats who saw the party as on the side of the working man. Today, unions play a much less significant role in American life. In industrial and formerly industrial Rust Belt towns, Republican-leaning groups and outlooks have burgeoned among the kinds of voters who once would have been part of union communities.

Lainey Newman and Theda Skocpol provide timely insight into the relationship between the decline of unions and the shift of working-class voters away from Democrats. Drawing on interviews, union newsletters, and ethnographic analysis, they pinpoint the significance of eroding local community ties and identities. Using western Pennsylvania as a case study, Newman and Skocpol argue that union members’ loyalty to Democratic candidates was as much a product of the group identity that unions fostered as it was a response to the Democratic Party’s economic policies. As the social world around organized labor dissipated, conservative institutions like gun clubs, megachurches, and other Republican-leaning groups took its place.

Rust Belt Union Blues sheds new light on why so many union members have dramatically changed their party politics. It makes a compelling case that Democrats are unlikely to rebuild credibility in places like western Pennsylvania unless they find new ways to weave themselves into the daily lives of workers and their families.

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Reviews
How refreshing to read a challenging account of how and why the Democratic Party lost a major constituency that attends to the people themselves, their communities, their organizations, and their struggles to make meaning of a politics that ceased to see them, hear them, or value them–to even respect them. For once, the authors enable us to hear the voices of human beings–not data points, utility functions, ideological categories, or labels. This work challenges us to focus on what a real constituency is–not a 'base' to be managed, but people who learn to stand together, work together, decide together, and act together.–Marshall Ganz, Harvard Kennedy School
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Details

ISBN-10: 0231208820
ISBN-13: 9780231208826
Publisher: Columbia University Press
Publish Date: 09/19/2023
Dimensions: 8.50" L, 5.40" W, 1.20" H
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