“We Ain’t Gotta Dream No More”: The Wire as Deindustrialization Narrative



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This thesis is an examination of the critically-acclaimed HBO television series The Wire and a commentary on the shifting nature of labor relations in the modern economy. It will, in two parts, explore the economic transformation that the United States faced at the turn of the millennium, keeping in mind the ever-present specter of Baltimore’s past while examining its present. While the first chapter will focus on the shifting nature of labor itself, the second chapter examines how the corruptibility of the state worsened the already unjust outcomes of the capitalist system. What emerges, hopefully, is a deeper understanding of a show deeply in touch with the economic shifts this country continues to face today, and the sophisticated way in which it portrayed an America yet again failing to care for its denizens in the most need. By concentrating on the show’s second season, an investigation into the union of longshoremen who work the Port of Baltimore, one can see how technology and globalization affects communities of labor, and how both the state and the capitalist system responded in a manner that was not only inadequate, but almost always entrenched the dominant powers at the expense of the vanishing middle-class. This, in turn, presents a portrait not just of contemporary America’s economic failings, but an explanation of the ways, from old to new, in which economic structures fail to bring legitimate opportunity to those who seek it.



2013 English Honors Thesis: Winner of the Barbara Hernnstein Smith Award For Outstanding Work in Literary Criticism Or Theory




Liberman, Harry (2013). “We Ain’t Gotta Dream No More”: The Wire as Deindustrialization Narrative. Honors thesis, Duke University. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/7565.

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