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Work, Workers, and the Heroization of Everyday Life in Global Perspective


The workshop sheds light on the heroization of ordinary, seemingly “un-heroic” people and their actions in everyday life in the twentieth century, with a particular focus on the heroization of work and workers. It combines an analysis of the social and political functions of heroes and heroines in Western and non-Western societies with an efforts to shine new light on the role of the working class in modern mass societies. Specifically, it focuses on the following questions: what particular norms and values did the heroization of ordinary people and their actions confirm, strengthen, or challenge? What do such forms of heroization tell us about the particular role that work and workers played in Western and non-Western societies, as well as the ways in which work, workers, and their contributions were defined and acknowledged? To what extent, was heroism redefined when being applied to “ordinary” people and everyday life, and how did these redefinitions change over the course of the twentieth century? Finally, how did heroizations of work and workers in socialist societies differ from similar forms of acclaim in capitalist societies during and after the Cold War? Papers on China, the Soviet Union, Romania, the United States, and Great Britain provide a comparative perspective that offers at least partial answers to these questions. In addition, this global perspective can help in analyzing the transnational dynamics that may have influenced the heroization of work and workers in Western and non-Western societies.

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