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Who Should Rule at Home?Confronting the Elite in British New York City$
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Joyce D. Goodfriend

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780801451270

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9780801451270.001.0001

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The Pan-ethnic Elite and the Problem of Cultural Authority

(p.1) Introduction
Who Should Rule at Home?

Joyce D. Goodfriend

Cornell University Press

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.

Keywords:   power relations, New York City, artisans, cultural authority, gentlemen, cultural norms, social hierarchy, politeness, pan-ethnic elite, gentry

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