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eBook Urban Masses and Moral Order in America, 1820-1920 ePub

eBook Urban Masses and Moral Order in America, 1820-1920 ePub

by Paul S. Boyer

  • ISBN: 0674931092
  • Category: Politics and Government
  • Subcategory: Politics
  • Author: Paul S. Boyer
  • Language: English
  • Publisher: Harvard Univ Pr; First edition (October 1, 1978)
  • Pages: 400
  • ePub book: 1391 kb
  • Fb2 book: 1362 kb
  • Other: doc azw rtf docx
  • Rating: 4.8
  • Votes: 839

Description

Boyer, Paul S. Publication date.

Boyer, Paul S. Books for People with Print Disabilities. Trent University Library Donation. Internet Archive Books.

Boyer describes the early attempts of Jacksonian evangelicals to recreate in the city the social equivalent of the morally homogeneous village; he also discusses later strategies that tried to exert a moral influence on urban immigrant families by voluntarist effort, including, for instance, the Charity Organizations' "friendly visitors.

He integrates the ideologies of urban crusades with an examination of the careers and the mentalities of a group of vigorous activists, including Lyman Beecher; the pioneers of the tract societies and Sunday schools; Charles Loring Brace of the Children's Aid Society; Josephine Shaw Lowell of the Charity Organization movement; the father of American playgrounds, Joseph Lee; and the eloquent city planner.

Boyer was born in 1935 in Dayton, Ohio to Clarence and Ethel Boyer; he had two older brothers, Ernest L. Boyer and William . Boyer and William Boyer. The family was active in the Brethren in Christ Church, an offshoot of the Mennonites. In 1962 he married Ann Talbot, of Baltimore, Md. He earned his Doctorate in American History from Harvard University. By the Bomb's Early Light: American Thought and Culture at the Dawn of the Atomic Age (NY: Pantheon, 1985; 2nd edn. with a new introduction, Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1994).

Published by Thriftbooks. In the Foucauldian spirtit of the historical genealogy which has become the standard form of books about social power, Boyer periodizes the many manifestations of social control that rose in American cities from 1820 to 1920.

Like Cities Perceived: Urban Society in European and American Thought, 1820-1940, this book is essentially about America's response to the growth of cities.

For over a century, dark visions of moral collapse and social disintegration in American cities spurred an anxious middle class to search for ways to restore order. In this important book, Paul Boyer explores the links between the urban reforms of the Progressive era and the long efforts of prior generations to tame the cities. He integrates the ideologies of urban crusades with an examination of the careers and the mentalities of a group of vigorous activists, including Lyman Beecher; the pioneers of the tract societies and Sunday schools; Charles Loring Brace of the Children's Aid Society; Josephine Shaw Lowell of the Charity Organization movement; the father of American playgrounds, Joseph Lee; and the eloquent city planner Daniel Hudson Burnham.Boyer describes the early attempts of Jacksonian evangelicals to recreate in the city the social equivalent of the morally homogeneous village; he also discusses later strategies that tried to exert a moral influence on urban immigrant families by voluntarist effort, including, for instance, the Charity Organizations' "friendly visitors." By the 1890s there had developed two sharply divergent trends in thinking about urban planning and social control: the bleak assessment that led to coercive strategies and the hopeful evaluation that emphasized the importance of environmental betterment as a means of urban moral control.

Comments

BlessСhild BlessСhild
Helpful for a current project.
Androrim Androrim
Urban Masses and Moral Order in America reads like a really great documentary; engaging, easy to understand, and thorough. Author Paul Boyer, a cultural and intellectual historian who received his PhD from Harvard University, explores how the transformation of socity from primarily agrarian to increasingly urban caused concerns for moral disorder. Like Cities Perceived: Urban Society in European and American Thought, 1820-1940, this book is essentially about America's response to the growth of cities.

Beginning in the Jacksonian era, Boyer follows the ways in which different groups attempted to tame cities and restore moral order. The interesting thing here is that, while this seems like a noble goal, a lot of the methods different groups employed were based in fear. "Street urchins", "slum dwellers", and "brothels" all existed outside of cities, but apparently there was something about the unfamiliar environment of the cities that magnified them there.

Personally, I was most drawn to the use of playgrounds and civic planning to create a more pleasing environment because this ties into a lot of what is going on in present-day development. Today we still attempt to recreate a simpler, more rural time and place within city limits. We may not be doing it as a statement against immorality (like the tract societies described in the book), but it's an interesting connection.
Rude Rude
Boyer's URBAN MASSES AND MORAL ORDER was a book just ahead of its time. In the Foucauldian spirtit of the historical genealogy which has become the standard form of books about social power, Boyer periodizes the many manifestations of social control that rose in American cities from 1820 to 1920.
The first social control programs were the Tract Societies who distributed tracts showing new urban populations how to live morally, according to a kind of outdated bucolic Christian ideal. When tracts didn't work (none of the methods worked at all well according to Boyer), a number of other missionary societies stepped in with new ideas: the Children's Aid Society, the YMCA, the Salvation Army, the Settlement Movement, and finally, the City Beautiful Movement. Many of these societies went after children as the best hope for saving innocent urban unfortunates from the ills of the city, their ethnic parents, and the filthy Catholic and Jewish denizens of the tenements. The only exception was the Children's Aid Society whose founder saw urban urchins as extremely savvy, smart and supremely adaptive. Nonetheless, the Children's Aid Society shipped young people out to rural America in the belief that they could better prosper elsewhere than in the city. Most of the time this was done with parental consent, but sometimes kids claimed to be orphans so they could have an adventure with their friends.
Boyer's largest theme is the tracing of slow retreast of the strategy of personal contacts with the urban poor rendered by the "friendly visitor" of these many organizations as the means for moral uplift and social control, and its eventual replacement by the notion that a new achitecture, a new environment of playgrounds, swimming pools, outdoor concerts would have a mass civilizing effect. The prosletyzing was done in the form of buildings and patrolled urban spaces. Sans the religion, but still full of the moralizing and improving rhetoric, the progressive age government was enlisted in these new strategies of social control. And, of course, eventually, the "friendly vistior" became the social worker. But the same goal was pursued -- turning scary immigrants into solid middle-class citizens. Positive resentimentalizaion through civil space, through education, through public art in public museums, etc., is still a major strategy in large cities. Art and high culture as a moral instrument.
Boyer's other large theme is that all of these movements were essentially the same -- the tactics barely changed from generation to generation, with the exception of the spatial solution which had a different means but the same hoped for end. As one exhausted organization after another gave up, new organizations sprung to take their place, most of them presided over by men from rural communities who had moved to the city and were disturbed by the lack of social cohesion and surveillance they had experience growing up, and so sought to impose their rural or town Christian values and moral controls upon the city dwellers. The Puritans practiced this form of coercion in their small settlements, until the flock dispersed to such an extent that social control through surveillance could not work. By the end of the 19th century, city dwellers surpassed country dwellers, and much of the impetus of these early movements faded.
There is, of course, a parallel now with the Southern fundamentalists trying to impose their beliefs on the "godless" cities of the Northeast. In fact, in reading URBAN MASSES AND MORAL ORDER with an eye toward the rise of the South in the 70s and 80s, the same kinds prosletytizing are apparent. Although the intent of this particular social control movement was at odds with the free market ideologists on the other side of the conversative movement, the moral conservatives of the South and West (which had always been backward until vast flows of Federal money were diverted there by Southern senators after WWII), needed an ideology to go along with their grab for power. So, once again, we in the wicked urban North once more got to hear about our moral corruption -- as if nearly two hundred years of it weren't enough already.
A great read, a great synthesis, a real classic.