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Jerome P. Bjelopara, City of Clerks: Office and Sales Workers in Philadelphia, 1870-1920.

THIS IS AN effort to investigate both employer strategies and worker choices that created the expanding occupations of clerks and salespeople. The book examines how clerical workers were educated to their jobs, how they entertained themselves after work, and the neighbourhoods and accommodations that they chose to live in within their limited financial means. Gender and race are part of the story, but seem under-played in this book. The issue of social class is even less satisfactorily handled. Limited unionism among these new white-collar workers deserves close exploration. But instead we get a naivete about the social structures in which such workers operated, underlined by statements such as "The paltry amount of union activity among lower-level white-collar workers before 1920 suggests that the vast majority of office and sales employees identified with their employers. Clerks aligned themselves more clearly to management than did their white-collar counterparts." (122)
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Publication:Labour/Le Travail
Article Type:Book review
Date:Mar 22, 2007
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