Abstract: Masculinity as a Business Strategy: The Growth of the Collar Industry in Troy, NY

Karen Ward Mahar

Abstract

This paper examines three moments of crisis in the collar industry in Troy, New York, to determine how gender, particularly masculinity, was employed as a business strategy to address a specific challenge.  Since the power of using gender as a business strategy derives from the ability to tap into normative beliefs, using gender to address business problems tends to reify the image of the successful American businessman as white, male, and native born. The moments of crisis this paper considers are 1) the Great Upheaval of the 1880s, 2) the period of fierce competition between 1898 and 1901, and 3) the demise of the detachable collar in the 1920s.  The paper argues that in a small but significant way, unpacking the use of gender as a business tool at three different points in one American industry provides a window into understanding the everyday mechanisms that continue to masculinize capitalism.