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Help in the 40's

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Essay title: Help in the 40's

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In his book, Rockdale, Anthony F.C. Wallace explores the relationship between the products of technology and social organization. Wallace focuses his study on the fairly small village of Rockdale, an environment that is intended to reflect a significant part of the American industrial experience of the nineteenth century.

Many parallels are drawn between the various members of the community, relating not only to their time and place, but the religious, intellectual, and organizational aspects of life in Pennsylvania during the early- to mid-1800's. The role of work and industry in the social life is emphasized, detailing the advance of science and technology during the period and the manner in which the advance shaped the labor experience and, hence, the constitution on the community. The "indomitable perseverance" (21) of the community and leaders such as John Crozer and John Phillips in the world of industry led to a rapid assimilation of technology which both reflected and reaffirmed a relationship between economic and intellectual progress in the minds of the people of Rockdale.

Wallace studies this trend temporally, describing first the apex of Rockdale's economic success, then detailing its evolution from a growing village, through great industrial success, to the impact of the Civil War. In detailing the history of industrial technology, he clearly illustrates the importance of economic factors in creating the intellectual climate of the era, first with the emergence of an Owen/Fourier-influenced communal industrialism and later with the development of an evangelical response which better suited the needs and desires of a smaller, more conservative community. The people of Rockdale eventually tended to "a belief in America as a Christian capitalist nation,...(viewing) the social classes as complementary rather than antagonistic," engaging in anti-masonic politics, supporting the existing, traditional communal bonds of religion and work relations (342).

Rockdale is largely a ethnographic, socio-anthropological, qualitative study of a small community that is fairly difficult to access historically. As a result, the body of information provided by Wallace is more interpretive

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