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Deregulating Desire: Flight Attendant Activism, Family Politics, and Workplace Justice

Deregulating Desire: Flight Attendant Activism, Family Politics, and Workplace Justice

In 1975, National Airlines was shut down for 127 days when flight attendants went on strike to protest long hours and low pay. Activists at National and many other U.S. airlines sought to win political power and material resources for people who live beyond the boundary of the traditional family. In Deregulating Desire, Ryan Patrick Murphy, a former flight attendant himself, chronicles the efforts of single women, unmarried parents, lesbians and gay men, as well as same-sex couples to make the airline industry a crucible for social change in the decades after 1970.

Murphy situates the flight attendant union movement in the history of debates about family and work. Each chapter offers an economic and a cultural analysis to show how the workplace has been the primary venue to enact feminist and LGBTQ politics.

From the political economic consequences of activism to the dynamics that facilitated the rise of what Murphy calls the “family values economy” to the Airline Deregulation Act of 1978, Deregulating Desire emphasizes the enduring importance of social justice for flight attendants in the twenty-first century.

Introduction

Chapter 1. Domesticity and Its Discontents: The Flight Attendant Union Upsurge of the Mid-1970s

Chapter 2. Night Fever for a New Economy: The Struggle over Time and Money on the Cusp of the 1980s

Chapter 3. (De)Regulating Desire: Family Values, Pro-work Politics, and the Airline Deregulation Act of 1978

Chapter 4. Financializing Family Values: Flight Attendants and the Wall Street Revolution of the 1980s

Chapter 5. United Airlines Is for Lovers: The Politics of Domesticity and Partnership in the 1990s

Chapter 6. The Expense of Justice: Family Values and the Corporate Mergers and Acquisitions Business in the Twenty-First Century

Epilogue: The Future of the Flight Attendant Union Movement

Methodological Appendix: Researching Contemporary History

Notes

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