Outline of Industrial Capitalism

Outline of Industrial Capitalism - INDUSTRIAL CAPITALISM I...

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INDUSTRIAL CAPITALISM I The Transatlantic Economy and the Industrial Revolution II The Birth of the Factory System in England III The Enclosure Acts and the Poor Laws of the 1830s IV The Contradictions of Protectionism and Free Trade V The Contradictions of Scientific Development and Human Misery I The Transatlantic Economy and the Industrial Revolution It is generally believed that the Industrial Revolution began in England in the late 1700s, but it could not have begun there if England was not connected to a wider economic circuit that included the Americas and Africa known as ‘the Transatlantic Economy’. The first mass produced commodity to come out of England’s factories was cotton textiles . Much of the raw cotton that fed England’s earliest industry came directly from the cotton plantations of the Americas, where the primary source of labor came from Africa. Were it not for this transatlantic economy, England would not have had access to the vast quantities of raw materials at low prices that fed its earliest industrial manufacturing. II The Birth of the Factory System in England The first factories emerged in England in the late 1700s. The emergence of factories was guided by a calculating logic that aimed at increasing labor productivity through the utilization of new machines and the implementation of ‘scientific’ organizational schemes for the control and supervision of the work force. Because of the Industrial Revolution’s exacting deployment of ‘science’ to the field of economics and production, it shared certain aspects of the Enlightenment goal of deploying reason to effect societal improvement. However , the extremely inequitable new social relations that the Industrial Revolution produced were in opposition to the Enlightenment’s (and the French Revolution’s) general trend of pursuing greater social equality. The factory system in England took shape as follows: Throughout the 1600s and 1700s English importers of raw cotton from the Americas were looking for a domestic labor force to weave the cotton into finished products. Professional weaving had generally been under the control of artisan guilds (a type of ‘union’ of skilled craftsmen). The weavers that were organized into guilds demanded wages that were higher than what the cotton importers wanted to pay, therefore the importers looked for another option. They found their other option in the figure of the working class domestic housewife (typically in a farming family). The skill of weaving did not only belong to the professional guilds, it also belonged to the non-professional farming women who had traditionally been responsible for attending to the family’s clothing needs (sowing, etcetera). The cotton importers devised the ingenious ‘Putting-Out System’ whereby their raw cotton would be ‘put-out’ in small portions to a series of work-at-home women, once the allotted cotton 1
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This note was uploaded on 01/11/2010 for the course HIST 015 taught by Professor Patch during the Spring '07 term at UC Riverside.

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Outline of Industrial Capitalism - INDUSTRIAL CAPITALISM I...

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