Bodies Upon the Gears: Late Capitalism and Middle-Class Radicalism in the United States, 1960-1980.

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Title: Bodies Upon the Gears: Late Capitalism and Middle-Class Radicalism in the United States, 1960-1980.
Author: Gillan, Zachary James
Advisors: Katherine Mellen Charron, Committee Chair
Jason Bivins, Committee Member
David Gilmartin, Committee Member
Abstract: This thesis is an examination of the political economy of radical American movements originating in the middle class in the 1960s and 1970s, arguing that the hegemony of late capitalism necessitated that oppositional movements in this period revolved around the agency of the free market individual. It does so through the investigation of three case studies the student New Left, the black capitalist followers of Floyd McKissick, and the feminist movement that used the magazine Ms. as a discursive site which all worked toward a radical utopian shift in the society of the United States, even while rooted in the middle class. Between the market’s colonization of everyday life, the rise of the New Right, and their own desires to appeal to the middle class, the architects of these movements had to walk a middle path between the dialectical ideals of communitarianism and individualism. Moving in a roughly chronological order, this thesis proceeds through specific examinations of each of the movements in question. It begins with the New Left of the 1960s, focusing on Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), arguing for the importance of the mass consumer culture in the activism of these students. It then moves to an investigation of the black capitalist Soul City project of Floyd McKissick, a former Black Power ideologue turned Republican. Lastly, it examines the shift of the second-wave feminist thought surrounding the magazine Ms. from an anti-capitalist radical feminism to a more pragmatic liberal feminism designed to fit the lives of the suburban middle-class. Throughout, this thesis examines both the hegemonic power of the marketplace, and the capabilities inherent in its co-optation by radical utopian movements.
Date: 2009-04-22
Degree: MA
Discipline: History

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