For 25 years after World War II, steel workers, auto workers, and others laboring in good manufacturing jobs prided themselves on the middle-class lifestyle they had achieved for themselves and their families. Homes, boats, cars, education for their children: all were possible. Until their employers began to shift their business strategies with increasing intensity in the 1970s.
The second half of the 20th century saw a major shift from the so-called Golden Era of America prosperity following World War II to the dismantling of the nation’s manufacturing economy with deindustrialization beginning in the 1970s. This reorientation of the American economy had significant impact on individuals and communities that had flourished with industrialization and now faced increasing devastation. How people and places coped with the crisis and rebuilt lives and places is the subject of Cohen’s current research and the topic of this lecture.