Constructing Brotherhood: Class, Gender, and Fraternalism

Constructing Brotherhood: Class, Gender, and Fraternalism

Copyright Date: 1989
Pages: 280
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  • Book Info
    Constructing Brotherhood: Class, Gender, and Fraternalism
    Book Description:

    Despite the persistence of the fraternal form of association in guilds, trade unions, and political associations, as well as in fraternal social organizations, scholars have often ignored its importance as a cultural and social theme. This provocative volume helps to redress that neglect. Tracing the development of fraternalism from early modern western Europe through eighteenth-century Britain to nineteenth-century America, Mary Ann Clawson shows how white males came to use fraternal organizations to resolve troubling questions about relations between the sexes and between classes: American fraternalism in the 1800s created bonds of loyalty across class lines and made gender and race primary categories of collective identity.

    British men had symbolically become stone masons to express their commitment to the emerging market economy and to the social value of craft labor. Clawson points out that American fraternalism fulfilled similar purposes, as fraternal organizations reconciled individualism and mutuality for many who were discomfited by the conflict of egalitarian principles and capitalist industrial development. Fraternalism's extraordinary appeal rested also on the assertion of masculine solidarity in the face of feminine claims to moral leadership. Nevertheless, visions of solidarity were contradicted when fraternal organizations became increasingly entrepreneurial, seeking to maximize their own growth through systematic marketing of membership.

    Originally published in 1989.

    ThePrinceton Legacy Libraryuses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-6050-0
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
    (pp. vii-2)
  4. INTRODUCTION. Fraternalism as a Social Form
    (pp. 3-18)

    In seventeenth-century France, journeymen began to formcompagnonnages, or journeymen’s associations. Through these organizations, they attempted to defend their collective interests against the masters and to provide food, lodging, and guidance for one another as they traveled the country searching for work. In the compagnonnage’s elaborate initiation rite the young journeyman symbolically entered a new kin group by renouncing his name of origin and being “baptized” with a new name, known only to his fellow compagnons.

    Eighteenth-century British society saw the emergence of Freemasonry as an institutional force. Beginning in the seventeenth century, English and Scottish gentlemen had sought admission...

  5. Part One: European Definitions
    • ONE The Fraternal Model
      (pp. 21-52)

      Nineteenth-century American fraternal orders made constant reference to the past, portraying themselves as the modern embodiments of age-old traditions. The re-creation of cultural traditions is a highly selective process, as much a work of invention as of preservation or replication. The lodges of nineteenth-century America were so remote, both temporally and organizationally, from the fraternalism of early modern Europe that any attempt to draw connections between the two warrants skepticism. Yet that is precisely what I intend to do. The connections that I draw are not causal, certainly not genealogical in the sense that nineteenth-century fraternalists meant when, for example,...

    • TWO The Craftsman as Hero
      (pp. 53-84)

      Beginning in the mid-seventeenth century, British gentlemen began to request admission into the lodges of practicing stone masons, and then to form their own “accepted” lodges. The question immediately arises: why? What motivated gentlemen, even members of the nobility, to seek honorary acceptance into organizations of craftsmen? The answer to this question underlies an understanding of Freemasonry’s significance as a social institution that drew upon the popular traditions of an earlier fraternalism, particularly those of craft workers, to create its own unique blend of tradition and modernity. Consistent with its origins, “accepted" Masonry displayed all the elements that comprise fraternalism...

  6. Part Two: American Transformations
    • THREE Was the Lodge a Working-Class Institution?
      (pp. 87-110)

      At approximately the same time as it was spreading throughout Europe, Freemasonry reached North America, where the first lodge was formed in Philadelphia in 1730. Masonry established itself early in American culture and its influence was exercised not simply though the growth of the craft itself, but through its role in shaping the character of the countless other fraternal orders that would be founded during the nineteenth century. Belleville, Illinois, for example, a midwestern town of fifteen thousand in 1884, possessed numerous voluntary associations, including organizations like the Pecan Club, the Liederkranz Society, and the Widows and Orphans Mutual Aid...

    • FOUR Fraternal Orders in Nineteenth-Century America
      (pp. 111-144)

      The last third of the nineteenth century was American fraternalism’s golden age. Membership grew exponentially and every year saw the creation of at least one new order. But the period prior to the Civil War established the basic framework within which fraternalism would develop.

      Two types of fraternal association had emerged in the United States in the early nineteenth century. First, many organizations developed around the workplace. Some were trade associations, which included both masters and journeymen, while others were organizations of either masters or journeymen. Journeymen’s associations might evolve into trade unions, or they could continue to function primarily...

    • FIVE Social Fraternalism and the Artisanal Ideal
      (pp. 145-177)

      Chapter Two described the process by which Freemasonry emerged from the culture of the artisanal workshop to become a vehicle for a developing bourgeois sociability. This chapter argues that it was Masonic fraternalism’s origins in craft production and its continuing idealization of artisanal values and modes of interaction that were at the heart of its appeal in nineteenth-century America.

      Throughout the nineteenth century, the processes of capitalist development combined to undermine the craft organization of production. Yet this attack was rarely swift, abrupt, or uniform; rather, it was a process of erosion and gradual reorganization that varied greatly from industry...

    • SIX The Rise of the Women’s Auxiliary
      (pp. 178-210)

      The fraternal order, as an institution, was one component of a wider array of masculine associations in the nineteenth-century United States. Participation in games and sporting events, many of the activities surrounding party politics and electioneering, and, most centrally, public drinking—all these were activities that were collective, public, extra-familial, and restricted to men (though women might in some cases be present as onlookers).¹ Their effect was to promote solidarity among men, to make them aware of their separation from women, and thus to enforce and facilitate the exercise of masculine power. While the fraternal order was an integral part...

    • SEVEN The Business of Brotherhood
      (pp. 211-242)

      Late nineteenth-century American society, with its many clubs and societies, represents a case of what Anthony Oberschall has termed the associational mode of solidarity, a society in which collective action is organized through secondary ties of instrumentally motivated voluntary association rather than through bonds that seem either “natural” or “spontaneous.” This stands in contrast to communal forms of solidarity, forms of organization based upon kinship, village, or tribal identity, which seem more to emanate from or to be part of the organization of traditional communities than to represent a conscious and separate type of organization.¹

      Seen in these terms, nineteenth-century...

    (pp. 243-264)

    What defined fraternalism as a unique social form was its use of four elements—corporatism, ritual, masculinity, and proprietorship—to create a persuasive model of solidarity. But one more characteristic must be recognized: fraternalism’s consistent engagement with contradiction. Its tenuous unification of opposites, its symbolic resolution of conflicts—among religious sectarians, between young and old, men and women, wage workers and entrepreneurs—is part of what made fraternalism so appealing to its enthusiasts and what fascinates us today. Consider, for example, the following points:

    Fraternal youth organizations in early modern Europe articulated patriarchal assumptions and values; at the same time...

  8. INDEX
    (pp. 265-270)