“Melting Pot–Disintegration of Individualism”

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The post Civil War period known of as the Gilded Age embodied many changes in the American society. In James Connolly’s article he looks at the notion of “new urban history”. This focuses on the broad social changes that occurred during the Gilded Age. As referenced in Catherine’s post, she address the advancement in technology and the growth of capital. These new advancements became important to society because they allowed for the expansion and growth of America (through rail roads), and increasing diversity (through steamboat technology) of the American population. A phrase used to describe the American population is as a “melting pot”, but this phrase can also be used to define the decreasing desire to identify with individual culture and the “melting” of all individuals into urban culture. In Richard Schneirov’s written work, he attempts to periodize the Gilded Age through looking at capital, society and politics. Focusing more specifically on the aspect of society Schneirov looks at urbanization and industrialization and the idea of individualism. Individualism is something that I find to be of high importance when discussing the Gilded Age. With the transition to increased industrialization augments can be made that show how in this upcoming capitalist society how people have become part of a system and lack the interdependence that is become less prominent. In a capitalist society people can become lost as a result of being tied to their commute or working schedule in citifies or suburbs. Or farmers, who rely on machines and mass scale production as opposed to being self sufficient and only providing for ones family. An argument can be made that capitalism drives peoples desires to make money and become wealthy. 

Shcallaway’s post brings up an interesting point connecting the work of James Connolly and Charles Calhoun. Both authors look at defining the Gilded Age and the effectiveness of the terms industrialization and urbanization. Unplanned urban growth and increasing capital are aspects in proving how people became more focused on their social status then the importance of themselves (as individuals). The importance and meaning in individualism is imperative when looking back on cultural history and what drives society.

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