The Pan-ethnic Elite and the Problem of Cultural Authority
This book examines the dynamics of power relations in eighteenth-century New York City by focusing on sites where the elite's cultural authority came under siege. Drawing on multiple strands of evidence and taking into account the perspectives of actors outside polite circles, the book looks at the efforts of gentlemen to set and enforce cultural norms and the responses they encountered from persons of lesser rank such as religiously inspired artisans, wives, servants, the poor, and the enslaved. It shows how gentlemen at the top of the social hierarchy sought to certify their status as persons of distinction qualified to dictate cultural norms. New York's pan-ethnic elite, it suggests, inhabited an exclusive universe where their families put into practice the precepts of politeness delineated by the English gentry.
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