Industrial Capitalism and the Company Town: Structural Power, Bio-Power, and Identity in Nineteenth-Century Fayette, Michigan
AuthorCowie, Sarah E.
Committee ChairKillick, David
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractThis research explores the subtle distribution of power within early American industrial capitalism, as seen in the nineteenth-century company town of Fayette, Michigan. Research methods for the project include GIS-based analysis of the built environment and artifact patterns; the development of a historical ethnography for the town; and archaeological excavations of household refuse excavated from three class-based neighborhoods (an artifact database is attached to this document in CD format). Issues surrounding power and agency are explored in regard to three heuristic categories of power. In the first category, the company imposed a system of structural, class-based power that is most visible in hierarchical differences in pay and housing, as well as consumer behavior. A second category, bio-power, addresses disciplinary activities surrounding health and the human body. The class system extended to discrepancies in the company's regulation of employee health, as observed in medicinal artifacts, disposal patterns of industrial waste, incidence of intestinal parasites, and unequal access to healthcare. In addition, landscape analysis shows how the built environment served as a disciplinary technology to reinforce hegemonic and naturalized class divisions, to regenerate these divisions through symbolic violence and workers' daily practices, and to impose self-regulation. The third ensemble of power relations is pluralistic, heterarcical, and determined by personal identity (e.g., consumer behavior and gender). Individuals drew upon non-economic capital to bolster social status and express identity apart from the corporate hierarchy. This research explores the social impacts of our industrial heritage and the potential repercussions of industrialization today.