In the two decades between 1910 and 1930, over ten percent of the Black population of the United States left the South, where the preponderance of the Black population had been located, and migrated to northern states, with the largest number moving, it is claimed, between 1916 and 1918. It has been frequently assumed, but not proved, that the majority of the migrants in what has come to be called the Great Migration came from rural areas and were motivated by two concurrent factors: the collapse of the cotton industry following the boll weevil infestation, which began in 1898, and increased demand in the North for labor following the cessation of European immigration caused by the outbreak of the First World War in 1914. This assumption has led to the conclusion that the migrants’ subsequent lack of economic mobility in the North is tied to rural background, a background that implies unfamiliarity with urban living and a lack of industrial skills.
But the question of who actually left the South has never been rigorously investigated. Although numerous investigations document an exodus from rural southern areas to southern cities prior to the Great Migration, no one has considered whether the same migrants then moved on to northern cities. In 1910 over 600,000 Black workers, or ten percent of the Black work force, reported themselves to be engaged in “manufacturing and mechanical pursuits,” the federal census category roughly encompassing the entire industrial sector. The Great Migration could easily have been made up entirely of this group and their families. It is perhaps surprising to argue that an employed population could be enticed to move, but an explanation lies in the labor conditions then prevalent in the South.
About thirty-five percent of the urban Black population in the South was engaged in skilled trades. Some were from the old artisan class of slavery—blacksmiths, masons, carpenters—which had had a monopoly of certain trades, but they were gradually being pushed out by competition, mechanization, and obsolescence. The remaining sixty-five percent, more recently urbanized, worked in newly developed industries—tobacco, lumber, coal and iron manufacture, and railroads. Wages in the South, however, were low, and Black workers were aware, through labor recruiters and the Black press, that they could earn more even as unskilled workers in the North than they could as artisans in the South. After the boll weevil infestation, urban Black workers faced competition from the continuing influx of both Black and White rural workers, who were driven to undercut the wages formerly paid for industrial jobs. Thus, a move north would be seen as advantageous to a group that was already urbanized and steadily employed, and the easy conclusion tying their subsequent economic problems in the North to their rural background comes into question.
1. The author indicates explicitly that which of the following records has been a source of information in her investigation?
(A) United States Immigration Service reports from 1914 to 1930
(B) Payrolls of southern manufacturing firms between 1910 and 1930
(C) The volume of cotton exports between 1898 and 1910
(D) The federal census of 1910
(E) Advertisements of labor recruiters appearing in southern newspapers after 1910
2. In the passage, the author anticipates which of the following as a possible objection to her argument?
(A) It is uncertain how many people actually migrated during the Great Migration.
(B) The eventual economic status of the Great Migration migrants has not been adequately traced.
(C) It is not likely that people with steady jobs would have reason to move to another area of the country.
(D) It is not true that the term “manufacturing and mechanical pursuits” actually encompasses the entire industrial sector.
(E) Of the Black workers living in southern cities, only those in a small number of trades were threatened by obsolescence.
3. According to the passage, which of the following is true of wages in southern cities in 1910?
(A) They were being pushed lower as a result of increased competition.
(B) They had begun t to rise so that southern industry could attract rural workers.
(C) They had increased for skilled workers but decreased for unskilled workers.
(D) They had increased in large southern cities but decreased in small southern cities.
(E) They had increased in newly developed industries but decreased in the older trades.
4. The author cites each of the following as possible influences in a Black worker’s decision to migrate north in the Great Migration EXCEPT
(A) wage levels in northern cities
(B) labor recruiters
(C) competition from rural workers
(D) voting rights in northern states
(E) the Black press
5. It can be inferred from the passage that the “easy conclusion” mentioned in line 53 is based on which of the following assumptions?
(A) People who migrate from rural areas to large cities usually do so for economic reasons.
(B) Most people who leave rural areas to take jobs in cities return to rural areas as soon as it is financially possible for them to do so.
(C) People with rural backgrounds are less likely to succeed economically in cities than are those with urban backgrounds.
(D) Most people who were once skilled workers are not willing to work as unskilled workers.
(E) People who migrate from their birthplaces to other regions of country seldom undertake a second migration.
6. The primary purpose of the passage is to
(A) support an alternative to an accepted methodology
(B) present evidence that resolves a contradiction
(C) introduce a recently discovered source of information
(D) challenge a widely accepted explanation
(E) argue that a discarded theory deserves new attention
7. According to information in the passage, which of the following is a correct sequence of groups of workers, from highest paid to lowest paid, in the period between 1910 and 1930?
(A) Artisans in the North; artisans in the South; unskilled workers in the North; unskilled workers in the South
(B) Artisans in the North and South; unskilled workers in the North; unskilled workers in the South
(C) Artisans in the North; unskilled workers in the North; artisans in the South
(D) Artisans in the North and South; unskilled urban workers in the North; unskilled rural workers in the South
(E) Artisans in the North and South, unskilled rural workers in the North and South; unskilled urban workers in the North and South
8. The material in the passage would be most relevant to a long discussion of which of the following topics?
(A) The reasons for the subsequent economic difficulties of those who participated in the Great Migration
(B) The effect of migration on the regional economies of the United States following the First World War
(C) The transition from a rural to an urban existence for those who migrated in the Great Migration
(D) The transformation of the agricultural South following the boll weevil infestation
(E) The disappearance of the artisan class in the United States as a consequence of mechanization in the early twentieth century
In 1896 a Georgia couple suing for damages in the accidental death of their two year old was told that since the child had made no real economic contribution to the family, there was no liability for damages. In contrast, less than a century later, in 1979, the parents of a three-year-old sued in New York for accidental-death damages and won an award of $750,000.
The transformation in social values implicit in juxtaposing these two incidents is the subject of Viviana Zelizer’s excellent book, Pricing the Priceless Child. During the nineteenth century, she argues, the concept of the “useful” child who contributed to the family economy gave way gradually to the present-day notion of the “useless” child who, though producing no income for, and indeed extremely costly to, its parents, is yet considered emotionally “priceless.” Well established among segments of the middle and upper classes by the mid-1800’s, this new view of childhood spread throughout society in the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries as reformers introduced child-labor regulations and compulsory education laws predicated in part on the assumption that a child’s emotional value made child labor taboo.
For Zelizer the origins of this transformation were many and complex. The gradual erosion of children’s productive value in a maturing industrial economy, the decline in birth and death rates, especially in child mortality, and the development of the companionate family (a family in which members were united by explicit bonds of love rather than duty) were all factors critical in changing the assessment of children’s worth. Yet “expulsion of children from the ‘cash nexus,’ although clearly shaped by profound changes in the economic, occupational, and family structures,” Zelizer maintains, “was also part of a cultural process ‘of sacrelization’ of children’s lives.” Protecting children from the crass business world became enormously important for late-nineteenth-century middle-class Americans, she suggests; this sacralization was a way of resisting what they perceived as the relentless corruption of human values by the marketplace.
In stressing the cultural determinants of a child’s worth, Zelizer takes issue with practitioners of the new “sociological economics,” who have analyzed such traditionally sociological topics as crime, marriage, education, and health solely in terms of their economic determinants. Allowing only a small role for cultural forces in the form of individual “preferences,” these sociologists tend to view all human behaviors as directed primarily by the principle of maximizing economic gain. Zelizer is highly critical of this approach, and emphasizes instead the opposite phenomenon: the power of social values to transform price. As children became more valuable in emotional terms, she argues, their “exchange” or “surrender” value on the market, that is, the conversion of their intangible worth into cash terms, became much greater.
1. It can be inferred from the passage that accidental-death damage awards in America during the nineteenth century tended to be based principally on the
(A) earnings of the person at time of death
(B) wealth of the party causing the death
(C) degree of culpability of the party causing the death
(D) amount of money that had been spent on the person killed
(E) amount of suffering endured by the family of the person killed
2. It can be inferred from the passage that in the early 1800’s children were generally regarded by their families as individuals who
(A) needed enormous amounts of security and affection
(B) required constant supervision while working
(C) were important to the economic well-being of a family
(D) were unsuited to spending long hours in school
(E) were financial burdens assumed for the good of society
3. Which of the following alternative explanations of the change in the cash value of children would be most likely to be put forward by sociological economists as they are described in the passage?
(A) The cash value of children rose during the nineteenth century because parents began to increase their emotional investment in the upbringing of their children.
(B) The cash value of children rose during the nineteenth century because their expected earnings over the course of a lifetime increased greatly.
(C) The cash value of children rose during the nineteenth century because the spread of humanitarian ideals resulted in a wholesale reappraisal of the worth of an individual.
(D) The cash value of children rose during the nineteenth century because compulsory education laws reduced the supply, and thus raised the costs, of available child labor.
(E) The cash value of children rose during the nineteenth century because of changes in the way negligence law assessed damages in accidental death cases.
4. The primary purpose of the passage is to
(A) review the literature in a new academic sub-field
(B) present the central thesis of a recent book
(C) contrast two approaches to analyzing historical change
(D) refute a traditional explanation of a social phenomenon
(E) encourage further work on a neglected historical topic
5. It can be inferred from the passage that which of the following statements was true of American families over the course of the nineteenth century?
(A) The average size of families grew considerably.
(B) The percentage of families involved in industrial work declined dramatically.
(C) Family members became more emotionally bonded to one another.
(D) Family members spent an increasing amount of time working with each other.
(E) Family members became more economically dependent on each other.
6. Zelizer refers to all of the following as important influences in changing the assessment of children’s worth EXCEPT changes in
(A) the mortality rate
(B) the nature of industry
(C) the nature of the family
(D) attitudes toward reform movements
(E) attitudes toward the marketplace
7. Which of the following would be most consistent with the practices of sociological economics as these practices are described in the passage?
(A) Arguing that most health-care professionals enter the field because they believe it to be the most socially useful of any occupation
(B) Arguing that most college students choose majors that they believe will lead to the most highly paid jobs available to them
(C) Arguing that most decisions about marriage and divorce are based on rational assessments of the likelihood that each partner will remain committed to the relationship
(D) Analyzing changes in the number of people enrolled in colleges and universities as a function of changes in the economic health of these institutions
(E) Analyzing changes in the ages at which people get married as a function of a change in the average number of years that young people have lived away from their parents
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