Next to Godliness

Next to godliness

From the book jacket:

To many Progressive Era reformers, the extent of street cleanliness was an important gauge for determining whether a city was providing the conditions necessary for impoverished immigrants to attain a state of “deceny” – a level of individual well-being and morality that would help ensure a healthy and orderly city. The struggle for enhanced civic sanitation significantly reinforced the broader movement to improve social and environmental conditions and influence the individual behaviors considered crucial to personal advancement and societal health.

Daniel Eli Burnstein’s Next to Godliness examines prominent street sanitation issues in Progressive Era New York City – ranging from garbage strikes to pushcarts to “juvenile street cleaning leagues” – as a way of exploring how reformers amassed a base of middle-class support for social reform measures to a greater degree than in practically any other period of prosperity in U.S. history. Linking social reform concerns with practical politics and with compelling urban environment and public health issues, Burnstein stresses an ethos of mutual obligations in discussing reformers’ attitudes toward individual and governmental responsibility, individual character and its relationship to the social and physical environment, and the integration of immigrants into the broader society. 

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