American Management and British Labor: A Comparative Study of the Cotton Spinning Industry

American Management and British Labor: A Comparative Study of the Cotton Spinning Industry

American Management and British Labor: A Comparative Study of the Cotton Spinning Industry

American Management and British Labor: A Comparative Study of the Cotton Spinning Industry

Synopsis

This book examines the early American cotton industry through British perspectives. The book covers the period from the 1780s to 1880, and concerns mainly Lancashire and New England, although there are many references to Scotland, Pennsylvania, and New York. By concentrating on the spinning branch of the industry, Cohen is able to contrast different types of technologies, workers, markets, and goods. For instance, the book analyzes how American industrialists acted differently than the British millowners and deals with the response of American factory workers to industrialization as distinct from the British operatives.

Excerpt

This is a study of the early American cotton industry seen from British perspectives. It is a comparative work that explains why American industrialists acted differently than British millowners, why American factory workers responded to industrialization in a different manner than British operatives. It contrasts workers' control in England with management control in the United States; the triumph of craft production in Britain with the victory of mass production in the United States. It shows how labor-management cooperation in Britain encouraged the use of craft technologies, how the struggle over control in the American cotton industry encouraged the shift towards mass production techniques.

This book covers a period of roughly one hundred years from the 1780s to 1880. It concerns mainly Lancashire County and New England, though references to Scotland on the one hand and Pennsylvania and New York on the other are abundant. I have concentrated on the spinning and not the weaving branch of the cotton industry because the first offers a considerably broader range of comparisons between different types of technologies, workers, markets, and goods than the second. Technological change in cotton spinning, for instance, was far more drastic than any improvement in cotton weaving during the nineteenth century. Similarly, while power-loom weaving was uniformly a machine-tending job, factory spinning gave employment to two kinds of workers: machine tenders and artisans.

The question of whether we need another book on the cotton industry--an industry that has already been studied extensively--deserves immediate consideration. There are two sorts of justification for the present study. First, while studies of the Lancashire and New England cotton industries in the nineteenth century are numerous, there are but a few comparative ones. One purpose of this book is to shed more light on the American development by constantly referring to the earlier British example, comparing and contrasting the evolution of the two industries from their origins to the close of the century, point by point, phase after phase.

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