Catalogue

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Intimate ironies : modernity and the making of middle-class lives in Brazil /
Brian P. Owensby.
imprint
Stanford, Calif. : Stanford University Press, 1999.
description
ix, 332 p.
ISBN
0804733600 (cloth : alk. paper)
format(s)
Book
Holdings
More Details
imprint
Stanford, Calif. : Stanford University Press, 1999.
isbn
0804733600 (cloth : alk. paper)
catalogue key
2607557
 
Includes bibliographical references (p. [301]-322) and index.
A Look Inside
About the Author
Author Affiliation
Brian P. Owensby is Assistant Professor of History at the University of Virginia
Excerpts
Flap Copy
The middle-class condition, seen during the twentieth century as both the symbol of progress and order and the means to achieve it, has largely evaded historical analysis. Blending historical methods and anthropological sensibilities, Intimate Ironies relates the everyday lives of an emergent white-collar middle class to Brazilian national politics in the twentieth century. Focusing on the period between 1920 and 1950, the author looks beyond ideologies to reveal how, amidst the turmoil of modernization, middle-class men and women strained to wrest order from the ordeal of change. Drawing on legacies of hierarchy and patronage and orienting themselves in very concrete ways to the middle-class ideal of Western modernity, these Brazilian men and women recast the meaning of work and home to set themselves apart from those below them and to project a sense of moral superiority over those above. The author shows how anxieties growing out of this ambivalent position deeply conditioned their role in national politics, from experiments groping toward middle-class populism during the 1930's to the moralistic distrust of institutional politics that characterized the middle-class political outlook after World War II. Intimate Ironies represents a novel approach to the history of urban middle classes in the twentieth century. Most studies of the middle class have concentrated on culture or political behavior; rarely have the two been brought together. By linking everyday life and politics, the book reinvigorates the study of political history and class in modern Latin American societies, in the process complementing recent studies of organized labor and the industrial elites in Latin America. And by telling an unorthodox story of the middle class, the author challenges the very possibility of a linear, progressive narrative of social development.
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Choice on 1999-11:
Owensby, a history professor at the University of Virginia, has produced an original, quintessential academic work replete with well-presented information. His research has been supported by a long list of prestigious grants; the product is a work for those with a genuine interest in Brazil. The author's new approach, which joins cultural and political behaviors of the middle class, is commendable but provides for difficult reading and requires solid knowledge of Brazil's culture and its past and present. The book deals with the complexities, aspirations, and changes of the Brazilian middle class primarily up to the 1950s, and makes comparisons with other nations' middle classes. Owensby, who conducted his extensive research in the '90s, writes that Brazilians believed becoming middle class promised "an idealized modernity," but this notion is vanishing with Brazil's current difficulties. A welcome feature is the use of Brazilian novels that typify the urban middle class. Each chapter is supplemented with an extensive and useful bibliography and many notes. This genuine contribution to the study of 20th-century Brazil will also be valuable to those interested in the modern middle class in a globalized world. Undergraduate, graduate, and faculty collections. C. W. Arnade; University of South Florida
Reviews
Review Quotes
"Owensby uses a fascinating array of sources to present his well-told tale. . . . A very good book and one that not only touches a great deal, but is also a joy to read."American Journal of Sociology
"Owensby uses a fascinating array of sources to present his well-told tale. . . . A very good book and one that not only touches a great deal, but is also a joy to read."-- American Journal of Sociology
"Owensky moves easily amid a wide array of sourcesranging from popular literature written by, and for, the middle class to foreign and sociological studies of white-collar workers in Rio de Janeiro and Sao Pauloto execute an anthropological reading of their frustrations and aspirations. . . . His framework for understanding the middle ranks of the Brazilian social hierarchy are applicable today."Journal of Interdisciplinary History
"Owensky moves easily amid a wide array of sources--ranging from popular literature written by, and for, the middle class to foreign and sociological studies of white-collar workers in Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo--to execute an anthropological reading of their frustrations and aspirations. . . . His framework for understanding the middle ranks of the Brazilian social hierarchy are applicable today."-- Journal of Interdisciplinary History
"Scholars of Latin America usually give its middle class short shrift. Here, Owensby breaks new ground by investigating its rise in Brazil. . . . An indispensable book."Foreign Affairs
"Scholars of Latin America usually give its middle class short shrift. Here, Owensby breaks new ground by investigating its rise in Brazil. . . . An indispensable book."-- Foreign Affairs
This item was reviewed in:
Choice, November 1999
To find out how to look for other reviews, please see our guides to finding book reviews in the Sciences or Social Sciences and Humanities.
Summaries
Back Cover Copy
"Scholars of Latin America usually give its middle class short shrift. Here, Owensby breaks new ground by investigating its rise in Brazil. . . . An indispensable book."Foreign Affairs "Owensby uses a fascinating array of sources to present his well-told tale. . . . A very good book and one that not only touches a great deal, but is also a joy to read."American Journal of Sociology
Back Cover Copy
"Scholars of Latin America usually give its middle class short shrift. Here, Owensby breaks new ground by investigating its rise in Brazil. . . . An indispensable book."--Foreign Affairs "Owensby uses a fascinating array of sources to present his well-told tale. . . . A very good book and one that not only touches a great deal, but is also a joy to read."--American Journal of Sociology
Bowker Data Service Summary
Blending historical methods and anthropological sensibilities, Intimate Ironies relates the everyday lives of an emergent white-collar middle class to Brazilian national politics in the 20th century.
Library of Congress Summary
"Superb analysis of middle-class mentalities in Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo, 1920-50. Describes emergence of middle class, then argues that its members rejected political parties and leaders, but embraced the state's social service mission and social service jobs. Using a wide range of documents, sensitively explores reasons for political ambivalence and cult of domestic life"--Handbook of Latin American Studies, v. 58.
Main Description
The middle-class condition, seen during the twentieth century as both the symbol of progress and order and the means to achieve it, has largely evaded historical analysis. Blending historical methods and anthropological sensibilities,Intimate Ironiesrelates the everyday lives of an emergent white-collar middle class to Brazilian national politics in the twentieth century. Focusing on the period between 1920 and 1950, the author looks beyond ideologies to reveal how, amidst the turmoil of modernization, middle-class men and women strained to wrest order from the ordeal of change. Drawing on legacies of hierarchy and patronage and orienting themselves in very concrete ways to the middle-class ideal of Western modernity, these Brazilian men and women recast the meaning of work and home to set themselves apart from those below them and to project a sense of moral superiority over those above. The author shows how anxieties growing out of this ambivalent position deeply conditioned their role in national politics, from experiments groping toward middle-class populism during the 1930's to the moralistic distrust of institutional politics that characterized the middle-class political outlook after World War II. Intimate Ironiesrepresents a novel approach to the history of urban middle classes in the twentieth century. Most studies of the middle class have concentrated on culture or political behavior; rarely have the two been brought together. By linking everyday life and politics, the book reinvigorates the study of political history and class in modern Latin American societies, in the process complementing recent studies of organized labor and the industrial elites in Latin America. And by telling an unorthodox story of the middle class, the author challenges the very possibility of a linear, progressive narrative of social development.
Table of Contents
A Note on Orthographyp. xiii
Directionsp. 1
Into the Middle of a Competitive Social Orderp. 14
Shifting Hierarchiesp. 47
Struggling and Aspiringp. 72
Keeping Up Appearancesp. 100
Approaching the Peoplep. 130
Collaboration and Indifferencep. 159
Marginalized in the Middle of Electoral Populismp. 185
Apolitical Politicsp. 203
Reflectionsp. 236
Abbreviationsp. 253
Notesp. 255
Referencesp. 301
Indexp. 323
Table of Contents provided by Syndetics. All Rights Reserved.

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