Cover image for Beyond the ruins : the meanings of deindustrialization
Beyond the ruins : the meanings of deindustrialization
Cowie, Jefferson.
Publication Information:
Ithaca : ILR Press, [2003]

Physical Description:
xvi, 372 pages : illustrations, map ; 23 cm

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
HD5708.55.U6 B49 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



The immediate impact of deindustrialization--the suffering inflicted upon workers, their families, and their communities--has been widely reported by scholars and journalists. In this important volume, the authors seek to move discussion of America's industrial decline beyond the immediate ramifications of plant shutdowns by placing it into a broader social, political, and economic context. Emphasizing a historical approach, the authors explore the multiple meanings of one of the major transformations of the twentieth century.The concept of deindustrialization entered the popular and scholarly lexicon in 1982 with the publication of The Deindustrialization of America, by Barry Bluestone and Bennett Harrison. Beyond the Ruins both builds upon and departs from the insights presented in that benchmark study. In this volume, the authors rethink the chronology, memory, geography, culture, and politics of industrial change in America.Taken together, these original essays argue that deindustrialization is not a story of a single emblematic place, such as Flint or Youngstown, or a specific time period, such as the 1980s. Nor is it limited to the abandoned factory buildings associated with heavy industry. Rather, deindustrialization is a complex process that is uneven in its causes, timing, and consequences. The essays in this volume examine this process through a wide range of topics, from worker narratives and media imagery, to suburban politics, environmental activism, and commemoration.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

The term "deindustrialization" came into widespread use during the economic transformation of the 1980s. It signified a systematic shift in patterns of capital investment, frequently to the detriment of workers and communities. This collection of essays deals with the ongoing consequences of deindustrialization from a sociological and historical perspective. It is organized in five parts. The first section consists of case studies of economic decline in specific locations. One article, for example, deals with the motion picture business in Atlantic City between 1945 and 2000. A second group of essays traces the impact of deindustrialization on community environments, including the notorious Love Canal disaster. Next, three authors discuss the financial implications of disinvestment for communities and local political systems; Camden, New Jersey, to illustrate, tried to declare bankruptcy in 1999. The fourth section addresses the legacy of deindustrialization, which appears most acutely in cities linked with steel production, such as Youngstown, Gary, and Pittsburgh; those communities reflect the deep social changes that accompanied transformation. Two concluding essays present narratives of workers affected by deindustrialization. Altogether, the book offers a broad and insightful picture of the costs of economic restructuring. ^BSumming Up: Recommended. Public, academic (lower-division undergraduate and up), and professional library collections. R. L. Hogler Colorado State University