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Making the Empire WorkLabor and United States Imperialism$
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Daniel E. Bender and Jana K. Lipman

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9781479871254

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: March 2016

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9781479871254.001.0001

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The Wages of Empire

The Wages of Empire

Capitalism, Expansionism, and Working-Class Formation

(p.35) 1 The Wages of Empire
Making the Empire Work

Julie Greene

NYU Press

This chapter presents the remarks of Edward Thompson, Herbert Gutman, David Roediger, and other scholars on the history of working class in relation to the U.S. expansionism decades after the Civil War. Edward Thompson demonstrates how the working class made itself, framing class formation as an active and dynamic process. Meanwhile, Herbert Gutman argues that the U.S. working class in effect made and remade itself as waves of immigrants, possessing a variety of cultural traditions and workplace strategies. Lastly, David Roediger explores the crucible of whiteness that made class formation possible. Building upon the writings of W.E.B. Du Bois, Roediger coined the phrase “wages of whiteness” to denote the psychological and emotional benefits some workers received from their whiteness, which compensated for the class oppression they experienced.

Keywords:   Edward Thompson, Herbert Gutman, David Roediger, Civil War, U.S. expansionism, class formation

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