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Fabricating ConsumersThe Sewing Machine in Modern Japan$
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Andrew Gordon

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780520267855

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520267855.001.0001

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Resisting Yankee Capitalism

Resisting Yankee Capitalism

(p.91) Chapter 4 Resisting Yankee Capitalism
Fabricating Consumers

Andrew Gordon

University of California Press

Employees of the Singer Sewing Machine Company organized two labor disputes. The disputes were notable for the leading role played by managers and sellers, for their tactics—a virtual takeover of the sales apparatus—and for the ethnic nationalist rage that fueled the fires of grievance. In stubbornly defending the global validity of a single selling system, Singer paved the way for Japanese competitors who cloned Singer's product but more effectively adapted and legitimized its sales system for sellers and buyers alike. The Singer employees were attacking capitalism in general. Singer was also condemned as a “Yankee capitalist” company, and its position in Japan would have weakened eventually as domestic competitors emerged. But a stubborn defense of a universal system hastened this day; it gave impetus and opportunity to Japanese manufacturers and sellers, who would appropriate much of the Singer method even as they styled themselves proudly as Japanese.

Keywords:   capitalism, Yankee capitalist, Singer Company, Japanese competitors, labor disputes

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