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Class UnknownUndercover Investigations of American Work and Poverty from the Progressive Era to the Present$
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Mark Pittenger

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780814767405

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: March 2016

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9780814767405.001.0001

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Vagabondage and Efficiency

Vagabondage and Efficiency

The 1920s

(p.45) 2 Vagabondage and Efficiency
Class Unknown

Mark Pittenger

NYU Press

This chapter examines how undercover investigation ushered in a “New Era” of postwar labor militancy and 1920s industrial psychology, personnel management, and romantic vagabondage. It considers social investigators, such as Fannie Hurst and Whiting Williams, who promised to reveal not only workers' daily experiences, but also “what's on the worker's mind” by focusing on the psychology of the working class, the persistence of poverty, and the specter of class conflict. It also discusses the motives underlying persistent progressives' decision to go undercover and goes on to analyze one important work, Nels Anderson's The Hobo, which led many to call him a pioneer of participant observation. Finally, it explores the rise of hobo discourse, most of it in the vein of romantic vagabondage.

Keywords:   undercover investigation, labor militancy, industrial psychology, personnel management, romantic vagabondage, working class, poverty, persistent progressives, Nels Anderson, The Hobo

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