DISTINCTION, CULTURE, AND POLITICS IN MEXICO CITY'S MIDDLE CLASS, 1890-1940.
Eineigel, Susanne Karin
Vaughan, Mary Kay
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This dissertation looks at Mexico City's middle class from 1890 to 1940. During the latter part of the Porfirio Díaz administration (1876-1910), the middle class grew as the city became a commercial and administrative center. Sociologists both criticized and praised the middle class and its role in the country's future. Members of the middle class distinguished themselves from the Porfirian elite and lower classes through bodily behaviors learned from urban conduct manuals and short stories. The Mexican Revolution (1910-1920) was a devastating blow to the middle class, which rallied around issues of housing, employment, and transportation. In the neighborhood of Santa María la Ribera, residents petitioned for urban services and infrastructure improvements. Continuing a long history of civic engagement, the city's middle class publicly organized in response to the anti-clerical policies of the Plutarco Calles administration (1924-1928). Economic and political difficulties hindered the efforts of post-revolutionary municipal and federal leaders to win state loyalty from Mexico City's public employees. At the same time, new mass media, fashions, and popular culture of the 1920s and 1930s challenged existing class distinctions and gender norms. Educational opportunities opened up wider prospects for the middle class, or those seeking middle-class status. Technical schools and the National Polytechnic School offered one set of possibilities. The National Preparatory School and the National University offered another. The Lázaro Cárdenas administration (1936-1940) aimed to unite the middle class and the working class. As the state bureaucracy grew in the 1930s, Cárdenas brought public employees into a close relationship with the National Revolutionary Party (PNR), which later became the Party of the Mexican Revolution (PRM). By the end of the Cárdenas era, many sectors of the middle class felt politically marginalized. In contrast, middle-class public employees became beneficiaries of the country's new corporate state.