Kathy Peiss: Cheap Amusements - Temple University

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Cheap Amusements Review - Scribd

Over all, Cheap Amusements is a well-researched, well-analyzed account of the culture that working women created in New York City at the turn of the century. No doubt the same process was occurring in other urban areas of the country. Case studies following Peiss' model of investigating single working women could prove very useful. Other studies suggested by Peiss' research include investigating the movement of men from homosocial leisure to heterosocial recreation and the battle between leisure entrepreneurs and middle class reformists.

Cheap Amusements - College Essay - 554 Words

The early twentieth century witnessed the emergence of heterosocial companionship as a dominant ideology of gender, affirming mixed-sex patterns of social interaction, in contrast to the nineteenth century's segregated spheres. "Cheap Amusements "argues that a crucial part of the reorientation of American culture originated from below, specifically in the subculture of working women to be found in urban dance halls and amusement resorts.

during the first few chapters of Cheap Amusements. The emergence of a young
Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1986. Kathy Peiss’s book Cheap Amusements: Working Woman and Leisure in Turn-ofthe-Century New York is a study of the working-class woman’s culture during the turn-ofthe-century in the city of New York. The basis of the study focuses on how this culture changed and how these women pioneered new forms of gender relations through their leisure activities. Piess argues that the rapid expansion and commercialization of the late nineteenth century allowed the working-class woman to seek autonomy and leisure activities in order to counteract dependency in the workplace and in their Old World homes that eventually led to a cultural transformation between generations of the working-class gender relations or roles. She explores this culture by looking at the working-class woman of Manhattan that were typically immigrants or second-generation immigrants. She clearly states the classification of this case study in her introduction stating that “the working class woman discussed in the following pages typically were immigrants or daughters of immigrants, lived in…tenement districts, and labored for wages while unmarried” (9). Peiss divides this argument into three main parts. The first part (first three chapters) consists of an overview of the status of leisure for men and woman and how they spent this time. She explains how men enjoyed the freedom of doing as they wished while woman could only explore certain if any leisure other than housework or the street and stoop. This part also includes not only the married woman and first generation immigrant, but also the single working-class woman and how they were able to live and spend their leisure time. In this first part of the book, Peiss gives the reader a solid base When Peiss published Cheap Amusements, the role and development of entertainment in American history had been virtually ignored by scholars. During the 1980's, historians began to rectify this shortcoming. From sports and amusement parks to movies and theaters works studying recreation widened our understanding of what American were doing at the turn of the century. Peiss' study is an important addition to the discussion. EXAMPLE OF A BOOK REVIEW
Kathy Peiss' Cheap Amusements investigates the culture working women carved out for themselves in New York City at the turn of the century by studying their world of leisure. Her book seems to span the period from 1880-1920, though she does not specifically designate these years. She argues that trends of cultural change in the population at large may be traced by studying this small group of the population.


Peiss, Kathy. Cheap Amusements: Working Women and Leisure in Turn-of -the-Century
New York (Philadelphia, P@ Temple University Press, 1986).


Kathy Peiss describes the leisure activities of young working women living in New York during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries in her book Cheap Amusements. The book explores the emergence of a young female working class and the conflict the women encountered with the "Old World" traditions. Peiss also explores the commercialization of leisure and the socialization of female leisure. The results of these changes brought about what Peiss calls: "cheap amusements."
During the middle nineteenth century, women observed "Old World" traditions in respect to leisure. Most leisure activities for women were labor oriented and close personal relationships between women were frowned upon as deviant. Peiss explains this during the first few chapters of Cheap Amusements. The emergence of a young female working class caused a strain on the "Old World" traditions and leisure activities for women became controversial. The traditional role of women was changing due to the economic pressures from industrialization. As more young women began to work in the same conditions as young men, women gained the right to engage in amusement as a man would. Peiss discovers the commercialization of amusement to support the woman's' struggle for leisure freedom. The businessmen in amusement saw the female working population as an untapped market for exploiting.
The amusement business was booming due to the industrialization of cities and the need for leisure activities for the large population of workers. Amusement came in a variety of forms such as: social clubs, dances, variety shows, amusement parks, cheap theatre, nickel dumps, and even standing on the street corner. The businessman's goal was to make a profit off of these activities. With the exception of standing on the street corner, most...
Kathy , Cheap Amusements: Working Women andLeisure in Turn-of-the-Century (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1986).

Cheap Amusements - Kindle edition by Kathy Peiss

John F. Kasson, Amusing the Million: Coney Island at the Turn of the Century (New York, 1978), 3-9; Charles E. Funnell, By the Beautiful Sea: The Rise andHigh Times of Atlantic City (New York, 1975), 35; Peiss, Cheap Amusements, 41-45; John Philip Sousa, Marching Along (Boston, 1928), 232.

Cheap Amusements Working Women and Leisure in Turn-of-the-Century New York Kathy Peiss

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Concerts, moving pictures, vaudeville, and fireworks were common summer entertainments. These were just the sorts of "cheap amusements" working-class Americans enjoyed in other areas.

Cheap Amusements: Working Woman and Leisure in Turn-of-the-Century New York

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Accordingly, the small pleasures such women took from dance halls, amusement parks, and movies failed to emancipate them. Cheap Amusements acknowledges that the freedom gained by working women occurred in a limited space that subordinated women even if the greater freedom occurred in the “context of limited heterosocial relations.” However, the agency displayed by working women contributed to the restructuring of gender and the shift from a homosocial to heterosocial culture.