Aronowitz, Stanley 1933-
Aronowitz, Stanley 1933-
Born January 6, 1933, in New York, NY; son of Nat (a technician) and Frances (a bookkeeper) Aronowitz; married Jane O'Connell (a teacher), June, 1952 (marriage ended); children: Michael, Kim, Nona. Education: New School for Social Research (now New School University), B.A., 1968; Union Graduate School, Ph.D., 1975.
Writer, educator. City University of New York, College of Staten Island, 1972-76, associate professor; University of California at Irvine, professor of social science and comparative literature, 1977-82; Graduate Center of the City University of New York, New York City, distinguished professor of sociology, 1983—. Worked as a steelworker, union organizer.
American Sociological Association.
Honor America: The Nature of Fascism, Historic Struggles against It, and a Strategy for Today, Times Change (Washington, NJ), 1971.
False Promises: The Shaping of American Working-class Consciousness, McGraw, 1973, revised edition with new introduction and epilogue, Duke University Press (Durham, NC), 1992.
Food, Shelter, and the American Dream, Seabury Press (New York, NY), 1974.
The Crisis in Historical Materialism: Class, Politics, and Culture in Marxist Theory, Praeger (New York, NY), 1981, 2nd edition, foreword by Colin MacCabe, University of Minnesota Press (Minneapolis, MN), 1990.
Working-class Hero: Evolution of the American Labor Movement, Pilgrim Press (New York, NY), 1983.
(Editor) The Sixties without Apology: An Anthology, University of Minnesota Press (Minneapolis, MN), 1984.
(With Henry A. Giroux) Education under Siege: The Conservative, Liberal, and Radical Debate over Schooling, Bergin & Garvey (South Hadley, MA), 1985, revised as Education Still under Siege, Bergin & Garvey (Westport, CT), 1993.
Science as Power: Discourse and Ideology in Modern Society, University of Minnesota Press (Minneapolis, MN), 1988.
(With Henry A. Giroux) Postmodern Education: Politics, Culture, and Social Criticism, University of Minnesota Press (Minneapolis, MN), 1991.
The Politics of Identity: Class, Culture, Social Movements, Routledge (New York, NY), 1992.
Roll over Beethoven: The Return of Cultural Strife, Wesleyan University Press (Hanover, NH), 1993.
Dead Artists, Live Theories, and Other Cultural Problems, Routledge (New York, NY), 1994.
(With William DiFazio) The Jobless Future: Sci-Tech and the Dogma of Work, University of Minnesota Press (Minneapolis, MN), 1994.
(Editor) Technoscience and Cyberculture, Routledge (New York, NY), 1996.
The Death and Rebirth of American Radicalism, Routledge (New York, NY), 1996.
(Editor, with Jonathan Cutler) Post-Work: The Wages of Cybernation, Routledge (New York, NY), 1998.
From the Ashes of the Old: American Labor and America's Future, Houghton (Boston, MA), 1998.
The Knowledge Factory: Dismantling the Corporate University and Creating True Higher Learning, Beacon Press (Boston, MA), 2000.
The Last Good Job in America: Work and Education in the New Global Technoculture, Rowman & Littlefield (Lanham, MD), 2001.
(Editor, with others) Bangladesh: A Land of Beautiful Traditions & Culture, Chattagram Sangskriti Kendra (Chittagong, Bangladesh), 2002.
(Editor, with Peter Bratsis) Paradigm Lost: State Theory Reconsidered, University of Minnesota Press (Minneapolis, MN), 2002.
(Editor, with Heather Gautney) Implicating Empire: Globalization and Resistance in the 21st Century World Order, Basic Books (New York, NY), 2003.
(Contributor) Debating Empire, Verso (London; New York), 2003.
(Editor) C. Wright Mills, Sage (Thousand Oaks, CA), 2004.
Just around the Corner: The Paradox of the Jobless Recovery, Temple University Press (Philadelphia, PA), 2005.
Left Turn: Forging a New Political Future, Paradigm Publishers (Boulder, CO), 2006.
(Contributor) Tom Hayden, Radical Nomad: C. Wright Mills and His Times, Paradigm Publishers (Boulder, CO), 2006.
Against Schooling: Toward an Education That Matters, Paradigm Publishers (Boulder, CO), 2008.
Editor of Social Text. Contributor of numerous articles to scholarly journals and to periodicals.
The events of Stanley Aronowitz's life, observed Nation writer Paul Buhle, "would have provided the perfect plot for a John Garfield film about the young blue-collar New Yorker who must choose between the viola and the revolution." Caught up in leftist politics during America's post-Depression years, Aronowitz worked as a trade union organizer before opting for the academic life where he became, in Buhle's words, "an avuncular aide to the young radicals [and] a spectacle of Old Left podium styles in New Left settings." As a professor of sociology at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, Aronowitz has spent his career exploring issues relating to work and public education in such books as Working-class Hero: Evolution of the American Labor Movement, The Jobless Future: Sci-Tech and the Dogma of Work, 2001's The Last Good Job in America: Work and Education in the New Global Technoculture, How Class Works: Power and Social Movement, from 2003, and Just around the Corner: The Paradox of the Jobless Recovery. His work has secured him a place among the leading American social theorists of the late twentieth century. Writing on his home page, Aronowitz noted that his score of books and numerous articles "cover labor, science and technology, education and cultural topics, and I have written on social and cultural theory." Aronowitz further noted, "My work on education is widely adopted in college courses as are my books on labor, technology and work. In addition I have always been a public intellectual and social activist."
Sometimes criticized for a prose style that is considered more instructive than entertaining, Aronowitz has nevertheless gained a respectful audience, particularly among academics and policymakers. His books on the plight of labor in a post-industrial economy, for example, draw not only on scholarly research but on Aronowitz's own experience. As Bill Luker, Jr., explained in his Challenge review of From the Ashes of the Old: American Labor and America's Future, the book "is a deft and hugely informed analysis" from "one of the last of his generation of great labor-movement intellectuals, someone who has witnessed the better part of its modern development as both participant and scholar." This broad perspective, many critics have pointed out, gives Aronowitz's analyses a unique authority.
In From the Ashes of the Old, stated Buhle, Aronowitz argues that "organized labor ceased to be a social movement in the Red Scare days, has held together only because of public-sector unionism and now [at the turn of the twenty-first century] faces a make-or-break situation." Buhle found this thesis a welcome and timely one, though he faulted the book for de-emphasizing issues of race and gender as well as for Aronowitz's reluctance to confront controversial issues, such as AFL-CIO leadership problems. But he observed that "Aronowitz is right on the money in his appeal to labor to regain a social conscience,… to create a social and intellectual presence, to rally its members and potential supporters in resisting what he calls ‘the gallop toward an age of corporate hegemony’ and to propose alternative paths, with people above profits in health, education, and … other arenas."
Aronowitz takes on the subject of how labor will be affected by technology in several works, among them The Jobless Future: Sci-Tech and the Dogma of Work, cowritten with William DiFazio, and Post-Work: The Wages of Cybernation, a collection he coedited with Jonathan Cutler. Writing about the former for Journal of the American Planning Association, reviewer Alex Welsch observed that Aronowitz and DiFazio are most concerned with how new production methods will change power relationships, and they paint a gloomy picture for the future of labor because technology will lessen the need for paid work. Because of this, they maintain that work can no longer be the only way of distributing income, arguing for an even distribution of work and income through a system of reduced hours and a social wage. Welsch considered The Jobless Future "an energetic and stimulating book" filled with complex arguments and demanding analysis. Aronowitz presents much the same analysis in his contribution to Post-Work, "The Post-Work Manifesto."
In The Knowledge Factory: Dismantling the Corporate University and Creating True Higher Learning, Arono- witz argues that the U.S. system of higher education has been damaged by a corporate approach that has created a climate of consumerism in colleges and universities. He sees curriculum reform, vocational emphasis, and other changes as the means by which education has been stripped of its rigor and thus is ill-equipped to achieve the American ideal of "providing for society a layer of critical intellectuals." Aronowitz recommends a return to a core curriculum and greater emphasis on critical thinking as ways to counteract the negative effects of the new "busni-versity." Though critics generally acknowledged the seriousness of Aronowitz's argument, they were not convinced that his prescription is realistic. "What's urged is wonderfully old-fashioned stuff," observed David L. Kirp in Nation. "Allan (The Closing of the American Mind) Bloom … would feel at home teaching this two-year sequence of required courses." Kirp found Aronowitz's arguments unfocused and overgeneralized, and he concluded that "there is a persuasive case for universal liberal education … but it is not advanced in The Knowledge Factory." Similar skepticism colored Renee Tursi's review in the New York Times Book Review, in which she commented that Aronowitz "skirts the ideological Pandora's box [his] dream syllabus tends to open." Nevertheless, as a writer for Publishers Weekly noted, Aronowitz "should be commended for the high seriousness of his endeavor."
In The Last Good Job in America, Aronowitz provides a series of essays that describe how the sense of job security has been eroded in the United States as workers increasingly lose control over the way their time is spent. The author looks at work before the Industrial Revolution, and he compares his own position as a college professor to occupations that existed then. For Aronowitz, a college professor is the last good job in America, for as a tenured professor he has a great degree of freedom. Aronowitz tackles the effects of globalization on workers; this subject is important because workers, fearing the flight of capital to cheaper locations, are working longer hours for less compensation. Emy Sok, writing in the Monthly Labor Review, noted: "Throughout the book, Aronowitz presents reoccurring themes such as how capitalism eats away at the human spirit—taking the joy away from work—and how workers capitulate to labor market and employer pressure." For International Social Science Review writer Rick A. Matthews, The Last Good Job in America would "be of interest to anyone who is either familiar with Aronowitz's earlier works or someone who is interested in the type of critical and broad, sweeping sociology that characterized the writings of those who have inspired Aronowitz (e.g., [C. Wright] Mills)."
Aronowitz examines social movements and the role of power in society with How Class Works, in which he skewers the notion of America as a classless society. Aronowitz eschews traditional definitions of class and social strata, throwing social groups such as environmentalists and feminists into the mix. He thereby attempts to identify new social activists at work in the United States in the absence of an active Marxist or socialist movement. "By understanding the inherent power of these groups, we see how they can implement change," Library Journal contributor Ellen Gilbert noted. Gilbert also observed that Aronowitz, writing in the first person, "makes no bones about his own beliefs." Gilbert further commented, "But if this book is provocative, it is also erudite." International Social Science Review contributor Arvid J. Carlson felt that Aronowitz "employs a good turn of phrase and writes at a level that serious students of the social sciences should appreciate." And Heidi J. Swarts, writing in Perspectives on Political Science, termed How Class Works "a generous, balanced, and insightful integration of recent theoretical developments and analysis of real historical struggle."
Just around the Corner is a further exploration into labor and capital. In this work, Aronowitz looks at the phenomenon of a jobless recovery. Here he contends that it is wrong to believe that there will be more jobs and growth in good economic times. As he told an interviewer for the Temple University Web site, "I observed this disconnect in the early 1990s…. The ‘recovery’ of 1992-3 produced a lot of ‘McJobs’ but continued to hemorrhage good jobs—those paying a living wage, providing benefits, and presuming permanent status to the employee. This trend continued throughout the 1990s but became prevalent during the first four years of the 21st century…. In recent years many private sector jobs are temporary, contingent and low paid; public sector employment has largely stagnated except in education and health." In this work, Aronowitz argues that workers are entitled to have a job that pays a living wage, have access to affordable housing, and also have access to proper health care. Writing in Tikkun, Jane Credland noted that Aronowitz "details how we can secure these rights without leaving the United States deeper in debt than its troubled public sector already is." Kwang Soo Cheong, writing in Perspectives on Political Science, also had praise for Just around the Corner, noting that it "provides a useful discussion focused on the labor aspect of the recent U.S. socioeconomic policies and globalization trends." Likewise, a Journal of Sociology & Social Welfare contributor concluded: "Hopefully, [Aronowitz's] call for action will mobilize support from social workers and others who are aware of the glaring problems of poverty and deprivation in American society today."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Aronowitz, Stanley, The Knowledge Factory: Dismantling the Corporate University and Creating True Higher Learning, Beacon Press (Boston, MA), 2000.
Booklist, January 1, 1998, Mary Carroll, review of Post-Work: The Wages of Cybernation, p. 753; September 1, 1998, Vernon Ford, review of From the Ashes of the Old: American Labor and America's Future, p. 38; February 15, 2000, Mary Carroll, review of The Knowledge Factory: Dismantling the Corporate University and Creating True Higher Learning, p. 1055.
Challenge, September-October, 1999, Bill Luker, Jr., review of From the Ashes of the Old, p. 114.
Historian, winter, 1999, Robbie Lieb, "The Death and Rebirth of American Radicalism," p. 409.
International Social Science Review, June 22, 2003, Rick A. Matthews, review of The Last Good Job in America: Work and Education in the New Global Technoculture, p. 47; March 22, 2005, Arvid J. Carlson, review of How Class Works: Power and Social Movement, p. 64.
Journal of Sociology & Social Welfare, June 1, 2006, review of Just around the Corner: The Paradox of the Jobless Recovery, p. 168.
Journal of the American Planning Association, fall, 1996, Alex Welsch, review of The Jobless Future: Sci-Tech and the Dogma of Work, p. 544.
Labor Studies Journal, fall, 1998, Edward Hertenstein, review of Post-Work, p. 104.
Library Journal, March 1, 2000, Terry A. Christner, review of The Knowledge Factory, p. 106; August 1, 2003, Ellen Gilbert, review of How Class Works, p. 111.
MIT Technology Review, October, 1997, Bryan C. Taylor, review of Technoscience and Cyberculture, p. 65.
Monthly Labor Review, November 1, 2002, "Job Security in the 21st Century," p. 42.
Nation, April 3, 1995, review of The Jobless Future, p. 463; October 12, 1998, Paul Buhle, review of From the Ashes of the Old, p. 23; April 17, 2000, David L. Kirp, "The New U," p. 25.
New Leader, March 13, 1995, E. Chase, review of The Jobless Future, p. 16.
New Republic, Stanley Kaufman, review of Working-class Hero: Evolution of the American Labor Movement, p. 25.
New York Review of Books, February 18, 1999, review of From the Ashes of the Old, p. 45.
New York Times Book Review, December 11, 1983, Seymour Martin Lipset, "America's Changing Unions," p. 3; September 27, 1998, Steven Greenhouse, review of From the Ashes of the Old; April 16, 2000, Renee Tursi, review of The Knowledge Factory, p. 22.
Perspectives on Political Science, June 22, 2004, Heidi J. Swarts, review of How Class Works, p. 187; September 22, 2006, Kwang Soo Cheong, review of Just around the Corner, p. 231.
Publishers Weekly, November 18, 1996, review of The Death and Rebirth of American Radicalism, p. 68; August 31, 1998, review of From the Ashes of the Old, p. 62; January 31, 2000, review of The Knowledge Factory, p. 96.
Tikkun, May-June, 1996, Michael Weissman, "The Cultural Studies Times," p. 64; July 1, 2005, Jane Credland, review of Just around the Corner, p. 71.
Canadian Journal of Sociology Online,http://www.cjsonline.ca/ (April 14, 2008), Neil McLaughlin, review of Radical Nomad: C. Wright Mills and His Times.
Stanley Aronowitz Home Page,http://www.stanleyaronowitz.org (April 14, 2008), "A Brief Narrative Account of My Career."
Temple University Web site,http://www.temple.edu/ (April 14, 2008), interview with Stanley Aronowitz.