In his book The Remaking of Pittsburgh: Class and Culture in an Industrializing City, 1877-1919, Francis G. Couvares focuses on the effects of industrialization on the lives of the people of that city. The primary effect on the people was a lessening of their power over their own lives. This was the result of the growth of the power of the steel corporations. As the power of the corporations grew, the power of the people decreased. This statement can be seen as a summary of Couvares's book on the industrialization of the city of Pittsburgh.
The question Couvares seeks to answer in his book is how the working people of the city could have had such relative power over their lives and their workplaces in 1877, and be so relatively powerless by 1919. It is a fact that in the 1870s the power of labor was steady and growing. However, as the power of the steel corporations increased, labor lost its power. The result was that by 1920 big steel firms ruled the city and the lives of the working people.
Earlier studies have emphasized the economic aspect of the answer to this question. Couvares does not minimize the economic aspect, but he adds that the cultural and political aspects of the industrialization process are also important and worthy of serious study. His book is in part written to remedy this lack of focus on those cultural and political aspects.
This part of the message of the book, then, is that the massive changes wrought by the industrialization of Pittsburgh were the result of comprehensive shifts on every level of human life in that city. By taking such a position, Couvares gives the impression that there is a certain inevitably to the process of industrialization itself. Once the industrialization process is underway, its effects seem to be unstoppable. At the same time, there were in Pittsburgh certain cultural and political realities which accelerated the process of industrialization once it commenced.