Surge and Cowie

Race Or Class?

Due to the massive deindustrialization in America’s large manufacturing cities such as Detroit, class was at a rift with the inequality between the citizens. After World War two America saw an increase with its economy after the war. Towards the end of this economic rise factories started to change. These factories became automated and workers started to lose jobs. The first people that were let go were the unskilled laborers, who were at the bottom and could be easily be replaced by a machine that could do the job just as well. Detroit was a city that saw its decline in factories and increase in race inequality. Thomas Sugrue and Jefferson Cowie both write about how the working class starts to dwindle in their books: The Origins Of The Urban Crisis Race and Inequality in Postwar Detroit and Stayin’ Alive The 1970s and The Last Days of the Working Class respectively.  Both these book embody the the slow but drastic divide that was happening between  classes within Detroit. The divide was between the unskilled workers and the skilled workers. The economic status defines the classes in America because of the social standing these citizens had in the city.

The economic status of many workers in the factories in these large cities during deindustrialization was not very high and on the verge of being in poverty.Workers were being replaced by machines that could do the job more efficiently and the factories could push out more product to the population. Thus creating a divide in the workplace, the division of the unskilled versus the skilled workers. In social terms the high class versus the low class. High class or the skilled laborers were needed because they are vital to the success of the factory. The low class or the unskilled laborers were not needed because the jobs they were doing could be done differently that saves money. This divide of class was also creating very different attitudes to their work. Early on in his book Jefferson Cowie shows signs of people being upset with their work. Jefferson Cowie goes on to quote Dewey Burton, Burton was a autoworker at the time. Jefferson writes “He felt sentenced to a trivial role in assembling them” (Cowie 1). The lack of feeling importance and just being a part of a machine, eats to the lack of motivation. Lacking motivation is not good for a factory because workers will start to let their standards drop and when they do so doesn’t the quality of the product.

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