An excerpt from

Made in America

A Social History of American Culture and Character

Claude S. Fischer

The Stories We Tell

The former drover George C. Duffield, whose memoir of a cattle drive inspired the television series Rawhide, recalled his mother’s life on the Iowa frontier in the 1820s and ’30s. She cared for the babies, cleaned the floors, made the beds, cultivated a garden, dressed turkeys, cured meat, made candles, preserved fruit, spun and knitted to make clothing, cut the children’s hair, taught them to spell, and “did the thousand things for us a mother only finds to do.” Hall of Fame ballplayer Cal Ripken Jr., whose Iron Man career inspired thousands of little leaguers, recalled his mother’s life during the 1960s and ’70s. Because his father was also a ballplayer, she did some of both parents’ duties. She kept score at his games, coached his hitting, and bucked him up when he lost. When Cal Sr. was home, she joined in family basketball games (she “had a really good two-handed set shot”). On the road, she packed and unpacked, set up housekeeping, did the laundry, handled the family budget, and settled the children’s quarrels. Ripken did not mention, as Duffield had, the food, clothing, barbering, and schooling that his mother took care of—that went without saying. He noted instead the emotional support and companionship she provided.

Such contrasting memoirs illustrate how greatly Americans’ everyday lives changed over a century and a half—both in the mundane details of life and in their personal nature. This book asks how Americans’ culture and character developed over the nation’s history. The long answer to that question is complex, partial, and sometimes surprising. The short answer is that centuries of material and social expansion enabled more people to become more characteristically “American,” meaning—among other things—insistently independent but still sociable, striving, and sentimental. Answering this question calls for a history that is not focused on presidents and politics but on ordinary people living ordinary lives, a social history. The question generates many detailed inquiries pursued in the chapters that follow. How have longer life spans affected Americans’ sense of control over their lives? How has greater wealth affected Americans’ taste for luxury? Has more city living and faster communications enriched or depleted individuals’ social ties? Have Americans become increasingly satisfied or more discontent?

Understanding the cultural and psychological path Americans have taken not only satisfies our curiosity, it helps us think about the path Americans should take. Historians, for example, have intensely debated the mindset of farmers in the colonial era. Did they try to shrewdly maximize their families’ wealth, or did they simply follow traditional, local practices? Behind this question lies a broader one: were American farmers individualists from the earliest colonial days or did they become so only in the nineteenth century? Energizing this debate is the feeling that if early Americans subordinated their individual interests to those of the community, then more collective arrangements could work in America “again.” If, on the other hand, early Americans calculatingly pursued their private interests, that would seem to imply—incorrectly perhaps—that Americans are self-interested by nature and suggest—incorrectly perhaps—that communitarian reforms are futile. What historians discover in, say, farmers’ ledgers from the 1700s does not logically imply taking one political position versus another. But history is psychologically, rhetorically compelling. That is why political combatants wheel out their own versions of history: as artillery in battles for public opinion. As to this example, the historical record suggests that Americans’ degree of self-interestedness has changed little over the centuries. In other ways, however, Americans’ character did change; they seemed, for example, to become more sentimental.

The fundamental contrast between early Americans and today’s Americans in their circumstances of life, the material and social conditions that influence culture and character, can be captured by the word “more.” Modern Americans have more of almost everything: more time on Earth, more wealth, more things, more information, more power, more acquaintances, and so many more choices. Not more of absolutely everything—twenty-first-century Americans, for example, have fewer siblings and cousins—but generally, more Americans gained more access to more things material, social, and personal. Americans began as a “people of plenty,” in historian David Potter’s words, but became even more so. And, over the generations, more of those who had been outside the circle of plenty and outside the culture of independence which that plenty sustained—a culture which I will describe shortly—joined it. In this sense, more Americans became more American.

Before elaborating on these ideas, I need to address some conventional misunderstandings of American social history. I discuss several specific myths of the American past and a few habits of thought that currently cloud our views of that past.

myths of american social history

Much of what we “know”—and I include many sociologists such as myself in the “we”—is mythical. Some myths are mere folktales easily and often debunked, like the story that the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock. Others myths are more subtle. For example, the familiar lament that families no longer take dinner together assumes that typical Americans had until recently shared such meals. However, this supposedly timeless tradition arose only among the middle class in the late nineteenth century. Similarly, people often regret that religious holidays are no longer sacred holy days. But such holidays, too, are often recent inventions or reinventions. Over two hundred years ago, for example, the American Christmas was more a carnival of excess than a religious experience. It was only around the end of the nineteenth century that the family-and-church Christmas that modern Americans consider to be traditional developed, thanks in some measure to A Christmas Carol and “’Twas the Night Before Christmas.”

More important than these sorts of misconceptions is the deeper, conventional wisdom about American history that academics, politicians, journalists, and writers of all sorts regularly invoke. Hardworking historians have in recent decades mined rich veins of archives, bringing to the surface stories of how Americans of the past really lived, revealing how much those conventional assumptions turns out to be myths or half-truths. Here are five illustrations.

Myth: Over the generations Americans moved around more. The belief that residential mobility increased is one of my favorite myths, because it is so widespread, so contrary to fact, and yet so resistant to correction. Many learned essayists speak of “our increasingly mobile society” and the disorientation all this modern moving around supposedly creates. In 2001, for example, the editorial page of the New York Times attributed recent changes in American family life in part to “the ever-growing mobility of Americans.” In 2008, an eminent psychiatrist explained a spurt in suicides by Americans’ “more frequent moves away from friends and relatives.” In fact, Americans moved around less and less in those very years and less and less over recent decades. Furthermore, modern Americans change homes and neighborhoods less often than Americans did in the mid-twentieth century and less often than Americans did in the early nineteenth century, the years of George Duffield’s childhood.

Myth: Americans turned away from religion. Sage commentators sometimes mourn, sometimes celebrate, the decline of religion and the rise of existential doubt. In fact, proportionately more twentieth-century Americans belonged to churches than belonged in prior centuries. Rates of membership fell a bit after the 1950s, but participation in churches still remained more widespread than in earlier eras. Whether modern churchgoers remained believers or became skeptics is hard to determine, but evidence suggests that Americans have generally kept the faith.

Myth: Americans became more violent. The specter of violent crime haunts contemporary Americans and they typically believe that life was safer in earlier days. This perception is basically wrong. Criminal violence fluctuates sharply in the short term—historically low in the 1950s, rising rapidly in the 1960s through 1980s, and then declining almost to 1950s levels by 2000. In a longer view, early-twenty-first-century Americans run a notably lower risk of being assaulted or killed than Americans ran in the nineteenth century or before. The general culture of violence—including bar brawls; gang attacks; wife, child, and animal abuse; eye-gouging fights; and the like—dissipated.

Myth: Americans became increasingly alienated from their work. Many commentators assume that modern industry forced workers who had been independent craftsmen into specialized, repetitious, subservient, and disheartening jobs, pointing to, say, the unemployed artisanal carriage-maker forced to work on the automobile assembly line. This certainly happened to many individuals. But if we consider American workers as a whole, far more of them and their children gladly left the drudgery of farming or labor, such as stevedoring, to move into more stimulating jobs, such as industrial and clerical work, however imperfect those were. Americans’ labor became less alienating.

Myth: Americans became indifferent to the needy. “We once took care of one another,” some people say to indict modern selfishness and others say to indict the modern “nanny state.” In fact, earlier generations did at best a mediocre job of caring for the needy. In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, Americans gave some assistance to longtime neighbors who were widowed, orphaned, or disabled through no fault of their own. However, the destitute who were strangers, newcomers, or morally suspect instead received directions to leave town. In the twentieth century, growing affluence and a variety of government programs virtually eliminated starvation and radically reduced poverty. These and other signs indicate growing—not lessening—sympathy over the generations.

Such mythic misunderstandings of American social and cultural history persist. Sometimes, they even determine public policy, say, about crime or poverty. The myths in part follow from the systematic ways that we—both scholars and the general public—think about history, about how we tell stories.

Habitual Stories

Nostalgia contributes to mythologizing the past. As individuals, we draw on the gauzy memories of our own childhoods; as a culture, we share a millennia-long grief about the loss of Eden. Scholars, even secular ones, are not immune. Polemicists of both the Right and Left share the yearning for a mythic past. Nineteenth-century continental writers who bemoaned the loss of gemeinschaft—the small and intimate community yet untainted by modernity—credited the romantic images of rural life in that era’s fiction and painting. Longing for a “world we have lost” spurs both reactionaries to call for a return to the past and radicals to call for a revolution against the present.

We also have a habit of seeing our specific moment in history as an epochal turning point. Judeo-Christian tradition invests historical events with great import; each drives us closer to the End of Days. Here, too, secular thinkers share this inclination. Hegel and Marx, for example, “were convinced that the novelties of any particular era represented the fulfillment of some hidden purpose implicit throughout earlier historical progression.” Such thinking leads us to exaggerate change, to read our time as the best of times or the worst of times, or even both at the same time (as Dickens labeled both the age of the French Revolution and his own era, about seventy years later). But this habit of thought misleads us. Most generations live, by definition, in ordinary times. Why not us?

Another habit is to view the past as normal, natural, and eternal, thereby making today seem abnormal, unnatural, and changeable. Many traditions, like the family Christmas or mothers’ spiritual role in the family, seem “immemorial” only because people cannot remember when those practices started. Many supposedly timeless folkways turn out to be recent developments, including the Zambian bride-wealth system, Maori creation myths, celebrations of birthdays, and Americans’ renderings of customs from the “old country.”

We weave stories, creating the past perhaps as much as remembering it. Precolonial New England was a “forest primeval,” for example, only in the romantic stories of nineteenth-century authors. (The natives had already heavily worked over the land.) Holidays, statues, and television docudramas are all about constructing what historians call collective memory. Intense struggles break out over how those memories ought to be constructed. For several years after 1968, partisans fought over whether Americans would remember Martin Luther King Jr. as a liberator, or as a troublemaker, or not at all. The institution of a national holiday settled that argument. It is no wonder that noisy disputes break out over school history books, for example, over how to best describe the lives of women or the conditions of slaves in the past.

It is no wonder, as well, that Americans of differing backgrounds remember the nation’s history differently. In a survey conducted in the 1990s, almost all white respondents asked to describe “the American past” answered largely in terms of their own families’ histories. Black respondents, in contrast, more commonly described the past in collective, racial terms. Ironically, although the black interviewees often talked about slavery and oppression, most of them said that the nation was making progress. White respondents, on the other hand, overwhelmingly said that their own families were doing fine but the nation was in decline.

We typically tell and understand history as a set of stories (“narratives,” academics say) rather than as just one thing happening after another. Stories provide coherence, plot, and dramatic tension; they tell us why things happened and what the moral is. The Civil War, for example, tested the proposition “that all men are created equal” and provided “a new birth of freedom,” according to master storyteller Abraham Lincoln. One grand story about America is triumphal and romantic: Americans built a “shining city on the hill” by pioneering, gumption, democracy, welcoming immigrants, and so on. Disenchanted historians of the 1960s recast the American story as bitter and tragic: Americans’ hopes were dashed by heroes undone, Indians murdered, Africans enslaved, workers repressed, immigrants deracinated, environments befouled, and so on. During the early 1990s, essayists dueled in the journals of opinion about a set of “national historical standards” that a team of historians had developed for teaching of fifth- through twelfth-grade history. Conservative critics saw the proposed content as too tragic, too critical. One of them wrote, “A nation grown cynical about its own history soon ceases to be a nation at all.”

The romantic and tragic versions of American history derive in part from greater epics of Western history. One epic is utopian: modern society is the summit of, or at least a station on the way to, Progress. The other is dystopian: modern society is a pit into which we have fallen. Other possible sagas, such as seeing history as an endless cycle of pretty much the same thing over and over, make little sense to Westerners. Most Americans tacitly believe both stories, the optimistic and the pessimistic. (Regular people are not ideologically consistent—and why should they be?) Depending on the events of a particular day, we see progress or decline. In the last several decades, Americans seemed to have increasingly seen decline.

The Modernization Story

Many scholars have long held onto a specific story called “modernization theory”: once, Western societies were “traditional”—small, simple, and intimate—and then sometime between the sixteenth and mid-twentieth centuries, material conditions, social arrangements, and cultural ideas changed radically, bringing forth “modern” society—large, complex, and impersonal. The many variants of this story all presume that a social revolution occurred—for example, the rise of manufacturing or the development of science—which had cascading effects. Societies are so tightly woven that changes in one domain radiated through others and eventually altered how people think and feel. The result, goes the theory, was a shift from tradition to “modernity.”

Criticisms of modernization theory fill the pages of academic journals. Critics attack, for example, its assumption that societies are tightly knit, or its image of earlier communities as simple and orderly. Of particular interest to us is the charge that modernization theory generally depicts twentieth-century America as the quintessential modern society, but America does not really fit the theory. Typically, the modernization thesis assumes that a people have had a feudal past, peasantry, and common heritage—think of a remote Alpine village. But none of these existed in early America. Often, critics imagined that they had buried modernization theory—only to see its ghost soon again roaming the halls of academe. It rises from the dead because it provides a powerful, all-encompassing story, one which corresponds to popular understandings and one which can tie together many historical strands.

Indeed, historians bemoan all the loose threads that comprise the study of American social history. Especially since the 1960s, researchers have uncovered a treasure of detailed information about the past—about family patterns, neighborhoods, work, leisure, immigrants, slaves, farmers, homemakers, and the new middle class, each in particular communities and years. But this fortune became burdensome. “We were—and still are,” wrote one historian in 1992, “snowed under by an avalanche of information, much of it unassimilable into a coherent national narrative.” And so historians ask: “how do we develop larger frameworks of meaning that help to grasp the … long-run historical change and continuity?” Modernization theory remains, mainly by default, the most common framework.

Perhaps historians should be guided by no grand story at all and just tell what happened, one thing after another. But this is not really possible. No one is an unfocused lens; we all fix on certain issues, attend to some themes and not others. Similarly, try as we might to avoid reading some coherence, plot, or moral into history, eventually we must sum it all up and try to make sense of what happened. In the next two sections of this introduction, I outline the topics in American social history I have selected to explore and the summary story I have extracted.

themes and thesis

My purpose is to sketch how American culture and character changed—or did not change—over the course of the nation’s history from the colonial era to the turn of the twenty-first century. This is, of course, an outrageously vast and absurdly ambitious goal. By necessity, therefore, I focus on only a handful of themes and give only brief attention to many other worthy topics, such as Americans’ work lives and how they dealt with race. I am struck that underlying most social trends is the vast expansion, between the years shortly before George Duffield’s childhood and the years of Cal Ripken Jr.’s childhood, in how much more Americans had gained materially, socially, and culturally. How did having so much more in so many realms—more clothes, more comfort, more clubs, more religions, more acquaintances, and so on—alter how Americans thought, felt, and behaved? The specific themes are as follows.

Security. By the middle of the twentieth century more Americans were freer from physical and economic threats than ever before. This development was uneven; for example, young Americans faced increased economic vulnerabilities at the turn of the twenty-first century. Still, the long span of American history brought average Americans a level of material security that even wealthy Americans in earlier periods could not achieve. How much that reality translated into feeling secure is less certain.

Goods. From the start, Americans were a “people of plenty,” and their collection of goods only accelerated. Observers have long said that all this buying and owning corroded American character and may have turned Americans into a “consumerist” nation. The evidence suggests that in this respect, however, American character did not change. Americans today may be entranced by consumer glitter, but so were Americans centuries ago. Critically, mass production, mass distribution, and mass credit meant that more Americans could attain the goods that were part of the good life. Security and goods together created a foundation for the expansion of middle-class American culture.

Groups. America began as an unusually individualistic society—more precisely, a voluntaristic society, as I explain below—and only became more so. More Americans participated in more groups of more kinds, including relatively new kinds of groups, such as clubs, work teams, and free-floating friendships. They not only took advantage of these social options to form new sorts of bonds, they also used them to maintain independence from and voice in each group. The broadest example is how women gained greater power in American households.

Public spaces. American culture emphasizes the small, voluntary group, and the spareness of early American settlement encouraged private life. But through roughly the nineteenth century, more Americans discovered and joined in a vibrant public life on city streets, in department stores, at amusement parks, and in movie houses. Then, as the twentieth century unrolled, Americans moved back into their private homes and parochial social groups. Americans’ participation in politics followed a similar arc of greater and then lesser involvement in the public space.

Mentality. For centuries, middle-class Americans worked on their “selves”—their characters—whether they were colonial landowners copying the British gentry or religious enthusiasts preparing their souls for salvation. As America became materially and socially richer, more people engaged in such self-perfecting. Americans became no smarter nor more rational than their ancestors, but they gained a set of cognitive and practical tools to operate in the world, tools that gave them greater command of their lives and themselves. Americans learned to restrain their disruptive emotions and cultivate their socially useful ones, like sympathy and sentimentality. The end result was probably somewhat better mental health and a bit more happiness.

What runs through these seemingly disparate themes is an argument: the availability and expansion of material security and comfort enabled early American social patterns and culture to expand and solidify, to both delineate and spread an American national character. With growth, more people could participate in that distinctive culture more fully and could become “more American.”

This claim is somewhat unusual among grand narratives about Americans. Writers more commonly describe modern American culture and character as a break with or even a reversal of the past—and usually for the worse. Many, usually in the mid-twentieth century, depicted modern Americans as having lost their ancestors’ individuality, as having become sheep in a mass society. Others, usually in the late twentieth century, described modern Americans as self-absorbed, even selfish individualists who have torn apart the tight-knit communities of their ancestors. I am unpersuaded by assertions of revolutionary change in either direction and am more impressed by continuity over the centuries. (This, perhaps, is why Tocqueville’s 1836 classic, Democracy in America, still speaks to us.) Americans came to live, think, and feel more intensely in ways distinctive to mainstream, middle-class American culture; they became more “American.”

But what do I mean by mainstream American culture and character? By culture, I refer to the collection of shared, loosely connected, taken-for-granted rules, symbols, and beliefs that characterize a people. That culture is declared, sustained, and enforced by what sociologists call institutions, such as family, law, arts, and religion. By national character, I refer to ways of thinking, feeling, and behaving that individuals typically share with others in their nation. A central feature of American culture and character is voluntarism.


The first key element of voluntarism is believing and behaving as if each person is a sovereign individual: unique, independent, self-reliant, self-governing, and ultimately self-responsible. Free men of early America stressed the importance of attaining what they called “competency” or “virtue,” the independence that came with having enough property to support a household on one’s own. The second key element of voluntarism is believing and behaving as if individuals succeed through fellowship—not in egoistic isolation but in sustaining, voluntary communities. I describe American voluntarism in more detail in chapter 4, but here I point out a few of its implications and address some objections.

In a voluntaristic culture, people assume that they control their own fates and are responsible for themselves. Contrast that notion to what most cultures have historically presumed, that individuals are only parts of a social whole, acting out roles determined by God or fate and by those who rank above them (think, for example, of the medieval serf). A voluntaristic culture encourages people to examine and improve themselves, because they can and because their individuality is key to their fortunes. A voluntaristic culture implies procedural equality; each person is free in principle to join or leave the group and none can coerce another. Because success means doing well in voluntary groups, a voluntaristic culture also encourages individuals to strive for status. In several ways, then, many traits that outside observers have for generations described as particularly American—such as self-absorption, “can-do” confidence, egalitarianism, conformism, and status-striving—derive from a voluntaristic culture.

To be sure, observers have described many other ways that Americans stand apart, such as their intense faith, moralism, violence, and cheeriness. These distinctive traits may derive from sources other than voluntarism and may in some ways contradict voluntarism. It may be hard, for example, to square belief in a God who has a plan for everyone with belief that each individual is responsible for his or her own destiny, but people do. Cultures, as well as individuals, need not be and are not logically consistent. The core distinction of American culture, I am arguing, is its voluntarism.

Even in the eighteenth century, more Americans than Europeans participated in a voluntaristic culture. Visiting European gentry often complained in particular about all the equality they saw in America. Yet most Americans of that era were still not fully part of this culture. Most did not see themselves as autonomous self-creators nor as free to join or leave social groups; they saw the world more the way members of the subservient classes in feudal Europe did. They were dependents without “competency”: servants, slaves and descendants of slaves, subjugated natives, wives, children, the poor, the ill, the uneducated, and the newly arrived. Over the centuries, however, servitude nearly disappeared, and more Americans in these categories became part of the now-majority, middle-class or bourgeois culture of voluntarism.

Voluntarism provides a frame for weaving together many threads in the story of American social change, but loose strands still remain. Other things happened, ranging from the construction of a racial caste system to the multiplication of television sets, that shaped American culture and character. The expansion of voluntarism is a central story I tell, but it is not the only one that needs to be told.

Objections and Responses

After the 1960s, many American scholars, now focused by civil rights movements on diversity, objected to studies of national character. One historian wrote in 1988: “The concept of a national character has been shattered by the historical pluralism of the past two decades; like Humpty Dumpty it is beyond saving.” Americans are too varied to have a national character or a common history. How, they asked, can one lump the experiences of men and women, black and white and Latino, worker and farmer, and so forth into one box? True: most societies are complex, pluralistic, and often conflicting, including that of early America. Nonetheless, out of this variety emerged a dominant social character, which I describe as voluntarist, which originated among Northeastern Protestants and then spread and gained power over time. Increasing proportions of women, youth, ethnic minorities, and the working class adopted that culture, even after sometimes resisting it. (Nineteenth-century Catholic institutions, for instance, tried to protect their immigrant members from the American culture’s insistence on free thinking.) While many scholars emphasize the survival of ethnic diversity into the twenty-first century, what is sociologically striking is the extent to which the American mainstream has overflowed and washed away that diversity, leaving behind little but food variety and self-conscious celebrations of multiculturalism.

Those skeptical about national character can point, for example, to the fact that homicide rates in Louisiana run about nine times higher than those in North Dakota, as large as a gap as that between the Ukraine and Iceland. They can also point to how much is shared across national borders, for example, the political similarities of English-speaking societies. Both arguments—that the United States is internally diverse and that it is in some ways similar to other nations—are valid challenges to the idea of a national culture. Nonetheless, important distinctions do coincide with national borders. All but a few small American states have homicide rates higher than those of other Western nations; so we can say that the United States is distinctively violent among affluent, Western societies. And American voting rates run substantially below those of comparable English societies; so we can say that Americans are distinctive that way, too. Discussing distinctive national character does make sense.

A different challenge to my description of American national character points out that voluntarism hardly applies to the extremely involuntary experience of slaves and their descendants unto this day. Does this not negate the claim of a singular, national character? No. All national cultures are complex and contradictory. The centrality in American life of this particular contradiction is precisely what earned its racial caste system the label of The American Dilemma. Nonetheless, in the centuries-old contest between the Northeastern culture of voluntarism and Southern hierarchical culture, it is clear which side has had history—and armies and wealth and ideological power—on its side, which side has long claimed national dominance. The victims of the defeated system, which was finally defeated only about a generation ago, are now and only too-slowly benefitting.

Skepticism about national character leads many scholars to also reject the common description of America as an “exceptional” society. For over a century, many historians influenced by Frederick Jackson Turner have sought to explain American history in terms its special traits, such as an open frontier. Sociologists have wondered why the United States avoided the socialism of Europe and speculated that its wealth or ethnic diversity explains its distinction. But the notion of exceptionalism is now “in ill repute,” according to an historian writing in 1995. The ill repute rests in part on linguistic confusion. “Exceptional” can mean “unusually good” or, in some renderings, being immune to the general laws of history. Both implications rankle many scholars. The common meaning of exceptional, however, is simply “unusual.” In many ways, America is in fact noticeably unusual among major Western countries. Americans, for example, are the most accepting of economic inequality, the most religious, the most patriotic, and the most voluntarist of Westerners. All societies, of course, are exceptional in some fashion—not better, not worse, but distinct in their own particular ways. Much of America’s history broadened and strengthened its distinctiveness.

Saying that American social history moved in the direction of deepening its national culture risks implying some sort of inevitability, of suggesting that history unfolded in some destined fashion. In truth, that social history involved starts and stalls and reversals, such as economic depressions and civil disorders. Some events stymied the widening of the American mainstream—the rise of Jim Crow, for example—and others accelerated it—like the economic boom after World War II. Moreover, Americans fought over these cultural patterns, in apocalyptic fashion on the battlefields of Antietam and Gettysburg, but also in more mundane ways, over issues such as public schooling, alcohol, and women’s rights. There was no inevitability. Still, the general trends toward greater security, increasing wealth, and more social groups meant that, in the long run, American voluntarism expanded.

Copyright notice: Excerpt from pages 1–14 of Made in America: A Social History of American Culture and Character by Claude S. Fischer, published by the University of Chicago Press. ©2010 by The University of Chicago. All rights reserved. This text may be used and shared in accordance with the fair-use provisions of U.S. copyright law, and it may be archived and redistributed in electronic form, provided that this entire notice, including copyright information, is carried and provided that the University of Chicago Press is notified and no fee is charged for access. Archiving, redistribution, or republication of this text on other terms, in any medium, requires the consent of the University of Chicago Press. (Footnotes and other references included in the book may have been removed from this online version of the text.)

Claude S. Fischer
Made in America: A Social History of American Culture and Character
©2010, 528 pages
Cloth $35.00 ISBN: 9780226251431
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