Does the political thinking of ordinary citizens change during periods of crisis?Marc Lendler addresses this question by investigating the story behind an unusually prolonged and ultimately successful strike-a five-year conflict at the Colt Firearms Company in Hartford, Connecticut, in the 1980s. Lendler documents how the participants' political consciousness evolved during this period, showing what they thought about American politics and institutions.Although American blue-collar workers seem to accept the political and economic order during normal times, their core beliefs about fairness, the availability of opportunity, redistribution, and the importance of government changed significantly in this nonnormal situation, Lendler finds. Drawing on surveys, extended interviews with workers and managers, and historical data, Lendler measures participants' views and compares them with the responses of workers in more normal settings. He evaluates his findings in a way different from most investigations of political thinking, combining rather than contrasting various explanations of resistance and accommodation. Lendler admits the usefulness of theories of trade-offs and "hidden transcripts" as explanations for public quiescence, but he contends that hegemony theory helps explain how political beliefs changed so rapidly when people were thrown into uncharted territory.
Subjects: Political Science
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