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Title: The automobile and progressive America, 1893-1923
Author: Ling, Peter J.
Awarding Body: Keele University
Current Institution: Keele University
Date of Award: 1985
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This thesis is an attempt to place the introduction of the automobile to the United States within its historical context, the Progressive Era, 1893 to 1923. It deals with both the evolution of a new mode of production which made the motor car affordable to middle­income Americans and with the social origins of their desire for cars. It examines the refinement of the American system of manufactures into the Fordist system of mass production and highlights the role of ethnic prejudice in labour relations, as illustrated by the Five Dollar Day scheme [Chapters 1 and 2]. The rapid diffusion of car ownership is seen in the context of a period of agricultural prosperity and of Progressive plans for rural reform, which stressed the malign effects of isolation [Chapter 3]. The transformation of American streets and highways is examined in the light of the Progressive faith in the objectivity of technical experts, and the decline of urban public transit is discussed in relation to the American pursuit of suburban expansion [Chapters 4 and 5]. Overall, the introduction of the automobile is linked to pre­existing economic and social inequalities, and in particular, to the rising influence of the Progressive middle-classes - the managers and professionals - in an increasingly corporate, capitalist economy. New elites emerged during the Progressive period and the impact of the auto­mobile upon American society is interpreted in terms of their relative influences [Chapter 6]. Thus, the American automobile, like other features of the Progressive Era, can no longer be placed sanguinely in the positive category of "reform" but must be re-assessed as an instrument of readjustment; a complex corporate product linking its user to a corporate world.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: E11 America (General)