In what ways did immigrant workers resist the forces of industrialization and shape the terms of their own lives?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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I would make the argument that the immigrant who was migrating into American life at the turn of the century might have tried in vain to shape the terms of their own lives, but was held in check to the power of industrialization.  I do believe that a case could be made that the pursuit of "the American Dream" enabled many immigrant workers to passionately believe that they were shaping the terms of their own lives in the new world.  This vision was that if immigrants come to America, work hard enough, and pay their dues, they and their children can have a better life and live a life that was superior to the existence they had in their home countries.  Certainly, this could be seen as a way in which immigrant workers did not see themselves as mere cogs in the economic machine of industrialization.  Rather, it enabled them to believe that they were able to shape the terms of their own lives, creating a world for they and their children which was believed to be fundamentally superior than the lives led in the old country.  I think that this might be one way in which immigrant workers resisted the forces of industrialization in their own mind and shaped the terms of their own lives.