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Title: Yuppies: Young Urban Professionals and the Making of Postindustrial New York
Authors: Gottlieb, Dylan
Advisors: Kruse, Kevin M.
Contributors: History Department
Keywords: 1980s
History of Capitalism
New York
Urban History
Wall Street
Subjects: American history
Issue Date: 2020
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: This dissertation reveals how the emergence of a class of highly-educated professionals—young urban professionals, or “yuppies”— transformed New York City, fostered new forms of work, leisure, and politics, and, ultimately, helped to produce America’s current age of inequality. In the 1980s, the growth of finance transformed the way that white-collar Americans worked. It also visited dire consequences on cities like New York. Yuppies, it argues, became the shock troops for the financialization of American life. This dissertation helps us to understand what financialization looked and felt like on the ground. It shows how the rise of the financial and professional economy was fostered by a range of institutions, from universities and business schools to investment banks and municipal governments. It explains how financialization was embodied in yuppies’ consumer, lifestyle, and fitness practices. It reveals how yuppies remade the ideological and fundraising base of the Democratic Party. And it links the growth of Wall Street with the real-estate speculation and displacement that swept cities in the closing decades of the twentieth century. More broadly, this dissertation challenges standard narratives of America’s rightward turn since the 1960s. It directs our attention away from the suburbs, the White House, and the Sunbelt to examine the rightward shift within liberalism itself that began in New York. During the 1980s, a new generation remade liberalism for the postindustrial era, importing the expectations and experiences of professional work into the Democratic Party. The meritocratic, individualist ethos of the law firm or trading floor, they reasoned, should be applied to society at large. Ultimately, New York’s yuppies, while never numerous enough to swing national elections by themselves, were able to reshape American life with their influential reconception of work, politics, and society.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog:
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:History

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