Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library
Working-Class Heroes

Working-Class Heroes: Protecting Home, Community, and Nation in a Chicago Neighborhood

Copyright Date: 2003
Edition: 1
Pages: 217
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Working-Class Heroes
    Book Description:

    Chicago's Southwest Side is one of the last remaining footholds for the city's white working class, a little-studied and little-understood segment of the American population. This book paints a nuanced and complex portrait of the firefighters, police officers, stay-at-home mothers, and office workers living in the stable working-class community known as Beltway. Building on the classic Chicago School of urban studies and incorporating new perspectives from cultural geography and sociology, Maria Kefalas considers the significance of home, community, and nation for Beltway residents.

    eISBN: 978-0-520-93665-2
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

Export Selected Citations Export to NoodleTools Export to RefWorks Export to EasyBib Export a RIS file (For EndNote, ProCite, Reference Manager, Zotero, Mendeley...) Export a Text file (For BibTex)
  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Maps and Tables
    (pp. ix-x)
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  5. INTRODUCTION In Search of Working-Class Chicago
    (pp. 1-26)

    Chicago served as one of the first laboratories for early social scientists. For nearly a century, scholars from the University of Chicago have taken to the streets to examine life in urban America. American sociology was born in the city’s dilapidated neighborhoods of crowded tenements and cold-water flats. In 1907, Upton Sinclair’s literary masterpieceThe Junglecreated a devastating portrait of life in Chicago’s South Side slums and awakened Americans to the hardships faced by immigrant laborers and their families.¹ Yet today, almost 100 years later, the working class descendants of these immigrants who toiled in Chicago’s factories, stockyards, and...

  6. ONE Rethinking Race in the Ethnic White Enclave
    (pp. 27-58)

    Farmers first settled the area that would come to be known as Beltway in the early 1900s. This unnamed section of prairie just beyond the city limits was little more than a sleepy hamlet. In time, this small farming community would become a mud-covered company town for local railway yards. By 1915, the City of Chicago annexed Beltway. Beltway’s clearing yards for the railroad—vast, oval-shaped switching yards for loading and unloading freight—would become one of the city’s major railway transport centers. As the railroad industry grew, so too did the railway yard owners’ demand for laborers. Thousands of...

  7. TWO A Precious Corner of the World
    (pp. 59-94)

    Joyce Czawjowski breathes a sigh of relief; for once the weather reports will be right, “the weather is just perfect,” she assures herself. Eighties with a just a touch of humidity in the air, not the usual blistering summer heat Chicagoans have come to expect in a city that was once prairie for as far as the eye could see. It will be a wonderful day for the Midvale Street annual block party, an event Joyce and her neighbors have been busy planning for months.

    In the front yard, Joyce’s husband Lou, a solid wall of a man who works...

  8. THREE Home, Sweet Home Bungalows, Domesticity, and a Sense of Place
    (pp. 95-122)

    A colleague came to me with an article he found on a recent trip to Chicago. As I read the headline that proclaimed 2001 the “Year of the Bungalow” my heart leapt. Here it seemed as if the unassuming brick bungalow, in the words of oneChicago Tribunereporter at least, “might be on the verge of cultural stardom.” In late 2000, Mayor Richard M. Daley, who himself was raised in a bungalow, announced the Bungalow Initiative, a plan that would earmark public funds for Chicagoans who purchase or remodel bungalows. In a statement to the press, the mayor declared...

  9. FOUR For Country and Home
    (pp. 123-152)

    When asked what they love about America, the people of Beltway answer, “Freedom, the freedom to do whatever you want.” “This is the best country in the world.” “There’s no better place to live.” “I couldn’t live any place but America.” “America to me is a blessing, I feel it is a blessing to live in this country.” “America is the greatest place in the world.” “There’s no better place to live, right, or at least I don’t know of any place.” The core of their conviction is that America is a place where people are free, that is unencumbered...

  10. CONCLUSION The Last Garden
    (pp. 153-162)

    Garden dwellers’ fears seep into the experience of everyday life. Proving one’s respectability requires the constant reinforcement of the moral boundaries that distinguish the deserving and undeserving, the good and bad neighbors, and the decent and the indecent. In this world, how you decorate your home, the American-made car in your back alley garage, and what the neighbors think of you serve as props in a classbased social performance that dramatizes your social worth. Within the mythic last garden, cultivating the appearance of order and abundance keeps the world from coming apart at the seams. It is not simply that...

    (pp. 163-166)
  12. NOTES
    (pp. 167-180)
    (pp. 181-194)
  14. INDEX
    (pp. 195-203)
  15. Back Matter
    (pp. 204-204)