A Town Abandoned

Flint, Michigan, Confronts Deindustrialization

By Steven P. Dandaneau

Subjects: Social Theory
Series: SUNY series in Popular Culture and Political Change
Paperback : 9780791428788, 259 pages, April 1996
Hardcover : 9780791428771, 259 pages, April 1996

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Table of contents

List of Illustrations

Introduction: Ideology and Dependent Deindustrialization

Part I. Class

1. New Directions
2. New Work
3. New Competitors
4. Theoretical Conclusions to Part I

Part II. Culture

5. The Silver Screen
6. Of Mirrors and Walls
7. Vision Thing
8. Theoretical Conclusions to Part II


A cultural study of the Flint community's response to its own deindustrialization, within the framework of the state, national, and international forces that produced it.


Hometown to both General Motors and the United Auto Workers, and the setting for the documentary film Roger and Me, Flint, Michigan, is a striking example of a declining city in America's Rust Belt. A Town Abandoned examines Flint's response to its own social and economic decline and at the same time pursues a broad analysis of class and culture in America's late capitalist society. It tells the story of how Flint's local institutions and citizens interpret and rationalize their city's massive auto-industry job loss and consequent decline, and it relates these interpretations to statewide, national, and international forces that led to the deindustrialization. Using a critical-theory approach, Dandaneau reveals the futility of Flint's efforts to confront essentially global problems and moreover depicts the disturbing conceptual and cultural distortions that result from its sustained powerlessness. Dandaneau shows that all policy solutions to Flint's problems were in essence public relations solutions, and he gives a moving portrayal of the consequences for local communities of the internationalization of American business.

Steven P. Dandaneau is Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of Dayton.


"This work will remain as a major study of a decisive period in American industrial and business history. It is an in-depth examination of the response of the Flint, Michigan, community to its deindustrialization—and examines that response within the framework of statewide, national, and international forces that led to its deindustrialization. This is the first study that applies empirically the critical theories of Benjamin, Horkheimer, Adorno, Habermas, and Marcuse and relates their work to a concrete situation of a conflict between 'capitalism' and human needs. " — Arthur J. Vidich, New School for Social Research

"This is a well-written and provocative discussion of popular ideologies in Flint, Michigan, as revealed by a variety of 'texts,' including a dissident union movement, a General Motors-United Auto Workers cosponsored worker education project, and the popular film Roger and Me. Better than nearly any study with which I am familiar, Dandaneau's captures the anxiety underlying so many aspects of American culture at this time. " — Larry Bennett, DePaul University