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Unformatted text preview: pride in craftsmanship gave way to the pressure to increase rates of productivity. The new methods of doing business involved a new and stricter sense of time. Factory life necessitated a more regimented schedule, where work began at the sound of a bell and workers kept machines going at a constant pace. At the same time, workers were required to discard old habits, for industrialism demanded a worker who was alert, dependable, and selfdisciplined. Absenteeism and lateness hurt productivity and, since work was specialized, disrupted the regular factory routine. Industrialization not only produced a fundamental change in the way work was organized; it transformed the very nature of work.
The first generation to experience these changes did not adopt the new attitudes easily. The factory clock became the symbol of the new work rules. One mill worker who finally quit complained revealingly about "obedience to the dingdong of the belljust as though we are so many living machines." With the loss of personal freedom also came the loss of standing in the community. Unlike artisan workshops in which apprentices worked closely with the masters supervising them, factories sharply separated workers from management. Few workers rose through the ranks to supervisory positions, and even fewer could achieve the artisan's dream of setting up one's own business. Even wellpaid workers sensed their decline in status.
In this newly emerging economic order, workers sometimes organized to protect their rights and traditional ways of life. Craft workers such as carpenters, printers, and tailors formed unions, and in 1834 individual unions came together in the National Trades' Union. The labor movement gathered some momentum in the decade before the Panic of 1837, but in the depression that followed, labor's strength collapsed. During hard times, few workers were willing to strike* or engage in collective action. And skilled craft workers, who spearheaded the union movement, did not feel a particularly strong bond with semiskilled factory workers and unskilled laborers. More than a decade of agitation did finally bring a workday shortened to 10 hours to most industries by the 1850’s, and the courts also recognized workers' right to strike, but these gains had little immediate impact.
Workers were united in resenting the industrial system and their loss of status, but they were divided by ethnic and racial antagonisms, gender, conflicting religious perspectives, occupational differences, political party loyalties, and disagreements over tactics. For them, the factory and industrialism were not agents of opportunity but reminders 47
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of their loss of independence and a measure of control over their lives. As United States society became more specialized and differentiated, greater extremes of wealth began to appear. And as the new markets created fortunes for the few, the factory system lowered the wages of workers by dividing labor into smaller, less skilled tasks. Paragraph 1: B...
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This note was uploaded on 09/17/2013 for the course LANGUAGE 13DL208 taught by Professor Wang during the Fall '13 term at East China Normal University.
- Fall '13