Man, Work, and Society: A Reader in the Sociology of Occupations

By Sigmund Nosow; William H. Form | Go to book overview
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which came in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Commercialization and later mechanization of industry resulted in a regrouping of occupations and eventually in the creation of a new occupational order. Where division of labor in the handicraft system multiplied independent economic units, division of labor in the manufactory and factory--the new forms of industrial organization--created a new permanent class of wageworkers. Industrial society divided into two antagonistic classes, capitalist entrepreneurs and the proletariat, and the social functions of the old occupational corporations passed on to the state.


E. O. Smith and R. L. Nyman

The Industrial Revolution and the Application of Engineering Methods to Labor Management

The essential character of the widespread labor problems of technological change are displayed with clarity by the industrial revolution as it took place in the cotton-textile industry in England at the turn of the eighteenth century. It was more than a technical and economic upheaval. It was a revolution in the organization and direction of human effort, out of which arose the whole process of industrial management as we understand it today. It was also a revolution in the manner of work and living of the producers.

The steam power and the new mechanisms which precipitated it came into an industry with centuries of traditions of individual workmanship. Although the method of distribution had changed, the cotton weaver, as had his ancestors for generations, worked in his own home. He cared for, and usually supplied, his own equipment. He regulated his own hours. His own body supplied his power and hence he controlled his own working speed.

No barrier between work and recreation existed. The worker could cease work at will to eat with his family, to take a glass of water, or in the country to work a bit in the garden. Often a hand weaver labored as the head of a working family, his and children carding and spinning yarn for him and helping in other ways. But such women's and children's labor was sporadic and was a family activity under the general conditions of home life.

The young weavers learned from others the traditions of their trade in which were embodied the accumulated skill and also the accumulated wisdom developed through generations of experience. This wisdom went beyond trade knowledge to tested traditions as to what conditions and


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Man, Work, and Society: A Reader in the Sociology of Occupations
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