19th Century Industrial Capitalism and the Youth Crisis of New York City.

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19th Century Industrial Capitalism and the Youth Crisis of New York City. With the transformation of American society from a commonwealth model to a capitalistic one, young American men left their families and pursued their individual interests. Quickly, American society realized that the new system had many defects. The process of fixing those defects did not pass without creating victims. For example- Industrial Capitalism created a corrupt youth. Inexperienced young men found themselves without family guidance and under the unfamiliar cultural and social pressures of the new life. Society leaders thought that prescriptive literature and lectures would be enough to guide the youth to the virtuous world. In reality, youth required more than that. Young men required supervision and laws to correct and rectify the corrupt ones. The rise of industrial capitalism altered the social boundaries, and ultimately the cultural possibilities of young men. Before the transformation, the location of work was at home and young apprentices lived with their employers, who are most accurately described as masters in a familial-type relationship. With the Industrial Revolution, masters were able to move their families to the new residential neighborhoods of the city, miles away from the industrial districts. At the same time, thousands of young men moved from New England to New York City, seeking their fortunes. These young men rented rooms in boarding houses. These houses had multiple bedrooms with two or three young men in each room. It was impossible for anyone to watch over these young men in this crowded environment. Lack of adult supervisions and social institutions, loosened the good behavior and values of young men. According to Patricia Cline Cohen in The Murder Of Helen Jewett, “the new living arrangements allowed for masculine youth culture to form virtually on its own.” (Cohen, 11) When on their own at night, “unsupervised young men were ready to take in the amusements of the metropolis to the extent permitted by their pocket-books.” (Cohen, 11) They lived on their own and socialized with other young men who lacked self-discipline. After work, they went home to eat and later congregated at bars and brothels. The unfamiliar living conditions transformed the personalities of young men and reshaped it into a bold male form of culture. These settings allowed them to explore the limits of leisure-like activities. The new industrial and economic system did not only alter social relationships but also shift the moral education. As the self-seeking individualistic model of economy grew, irreligious families neglected the moral training of youth. This neglect led to a serious fracturing of the virtuous community. Young men confronted a highly visible traffic of prostitution as prostitutes increased in both number and visibility. “Innocent young men could easily be led astray by bad women.” (Cohen, 231) Within a short period of time, places of evil, like brothels and theatres, replaced religious homes, and the lust of lower ranking women replaced the virtue of these men’s mothers and sisters. Brothels were central to the forming, nurturing, widening, and deepening the male culture. The young men socialized in the parlor of the brothels because most young men could not afford the expense of frequent visits to the upstairs rooms of prostitutes. Most men spent their time playing cards, gambling, listening to music, and sharing the stories of their sexual adventures. They shared and recommended prostitutes to each other, were curious about each other’s performance, and showed no signs of jealousy, illustrating that for these young men, “heterosexuality had a homosocial dimension.” (Cohen, 146) Their circle of male camaraderie and heterosexual partners facilitated and enhanced their sexual experience. The men even made friendships through prostitutes, and after which they met each other to socialize....
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