Great Depression and the Middle Class: Experts, Collegiate by Mary C. McComb

By Mary C. McComb

Nice melancholy and the center type: specialists, Collegiate adolescence and enterprise Ideology, 1929-1941 explores how middle-class students navigated the rocky terrain of Depression-era tradition, activity marketplace, courting industry, potential marriage customers, and faculty campuses by utilizing expert-penned recommendation and enterprise ideology to make experience in their state of affairs.

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Extra resources for Great Depression and the Middle Class: Experts, Collegiate Youth and Business Ideology, 1929-1941 (Studies in American Popular History and Culture)

Example text

Several excellent African-American colleges were established in the nineteenth century, including Fisk University (1865), Morehouse College (1867) and Howard University (1868). 69 AfricanAmerican men and women eagerly took advantage of their increased access to higher education. 71 These changes in access to education provoked fear in many middle-class white males who were concerned about protecting their privilege in a time of economic crisis. 72 Government officials tried to promote the notion that providing education for racial and ethnic Others would prove beneficial for the entire nation because it would have a culturally homogenizing effect that would speed the process of assimilating immigrants and African-Americans into the normative whole.

Bourdieu explains that family patterns and educational experiences work together to determine individuals’ tastes for cultural goods including food, clothing, art work and home decor. Bourdieu argues that class status can be lost, gained or reproduced through acts of consumer behavior. People can obtain access to social circles, land jobs and build business relationships by enacting proper tastes, manners and culture. Conversely, individuals who dress incorrectly or display “vulgar” manners can lose chances to attain jobs and social status.

College enrollment figures show that in 1870, 21 percent of all students enrolled in college were female. 76 The new women of the earlier decades of the twentieth century received a fair share of scorn, but the increased numbers of young women in school coupled with competition for jobs made female college students of the 1930s more suspect than their predecessors. The numbers of women in the professional work force had risen in tandem with the numbers of women enrolled in colleges. In 1870 the number of females in the work force was about 16 percent; by 1900 it had reached 20 percent.

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