The book ‘The Incorporation of America’ by Alan Trachtenberg depicts that the upcomming of industrial companies, companies and corporatization, the powers that existed at the time controlled the structure of the corporate world that was being developed during the Gilded Age and basically completely rebuilt and designed American culture in ways that were completely opposite to the way the way America had already established itself and its past, it caused a lot of conflict.
The book begins by looking closely at several of the myths (not truths) that came about in the beginning of the rise of business and company at that time. In chapter 1, the author depicts the myth of the West as a symbol of national consistency in a moment in time when unity wasn't really a thing. From this, The Dawes Act came about. The Dades act was passed to make sure that native americans had land on reservations and were protected. This was used to show the reality of the true west as it set the stage for the corporate industry to plant its roots and take off.
In chapter 2, Trachtenberg talks about the rise of mechanization, it represented progress and newness to come. Technology and innovation growing so fast created a lot of uncertainty and insecurity in the growing economy which forced people to think about things differently then they had in the past.
Chapter 3 tells about the battle between labor and capital in those years back then as a cultural conflict and it shaped what we consider to be American Values and it also helped shape or set the foundations for what we define social classes to be. There was a big issue with fighting over values and the state was on the side of capital to the point of inflicting violence on its own citizens and people. From this arguing and bickering the idea of having a collective voice came about and people started coming together to voice their opinions about things to make changes happen in the world.
Chapter 4, it talks about the city and how it grew and began to expand to take over a lot of rural land. Homes, places of employment, and the marketplace became part of bigger cities that were centered around designed for production and consumption. One neat thing that came about from this change was the birth of the department store! The department store was used as a way to show mass quantities of items to a lot of people at the same time making things readily available.
In chapter 5, Trachtenberg does on to discuss the corporate class’s shots to influence the cultural dominance. The american version and perception of reality was attempted to be shaped by mass producing and creating a high culture and it was a form of control over the people. Trachtenberg views political discord in this time as a fight over the soul of how Americans hold, view and themselves.
Chapter 6 talks about the Realism movement which was a form of art where painters used real life things to paint or draw pictures of in painting and literature and chapter 7 looks at the cultural symbolism reguarding the White City at the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago which depicts a very broad idea of culture. Trachtenberg talks about everything from politics and business, painting, literature, novels,, from urban planning to advertising.
Basically the book is about Trachtenberg’s analysis of what was happening in American at that time. Trachtenberg also illustrates and talks about how the bigger picture and the much broader uncertainty and discord of social, political, and economic relations put itself right in the middle of what was at the time popular culture. It also shows us how incorporation and the rise of corporate culture changed the way Americans viewed themselves, America itself as well as how they look at the world.
But, in the end, this is a book about the death of the original American ideology and the way things changed during that time to make America what it is today. There was a lot of cultural death and change that occurred in the Gilded Age at the hands of incorporation and the expansion of companies and the changing of how people think .
Overall I really liked and enjoyed reading this book. I learned a lot about the Gilded Age and liked learning about how America changed over time. It was cool to learn about how the companies and industries had such a big impact on the way things were and how America was shaped. It was also nice to learn about how Americans changed the way that they approached life in general with everything being affected to the extent that it was by the influence of the industries, even the social classes were shaped and changed.