Mike Ironside and Roger Seifert
When peasants and cottage labourers were forced out of the fields and their homes to work in mines, factories and, later, offices the process was often brutal. Work in these new workplaces took on new forms, as the owners strove for predictability, order and control over both the quantity and quality of labour. Their need to secure the adaptation of workers from the rhythms of agricultural and domestic work to the discipline of factory production resulted in management regimes in which fines, beatings, sackings, and all forms of harassment and abuse were the daily experience of the majority. For most peoples this is a recent phenomenon: 'with the exception of Britain, peasants and farmers remained a massive part of the occupied population even in industrialized countries until well into the twentieth century' (Hobsbawm, 1994, p. 289).
Official reports and the experts' views provide us with vivid illustrations of how employers perceived the nature of workers and their attitudes to factory work - colliers were 'naturally turbulent, passionate, and rude' (Report of the Society for Bettering the Condition of the Poor, 1798, cited in Thompson, 1968, p. 393-394), and generally the problem of factory work was seen as 'in training human beings to renounce their desultory habits of work' (Ure, The Philosophy of Manufactures, 1835, cited in Thompson, 1968, p. 396). Strict discipline had to be enforced to counter these and other failings. For example, there was a one shilling fine for 'any spinner found with his window open' (Political Register for 30 August 1823, cited in Hammond and Hammond, 1966, p. 32).
Such disciplinary sanctions to enforce the rules of the workplace were not additional to the activities of overseers and progress chasers - they were, and still are, central to the employment relationship. Historians, as well as novelists, satirists, cartoonists and film-makers have illustrated in their own ways the widespread public understanding of how management-enforced compliance with employer-oriented norms of workplace behaviour is central to the shared experience of employment. In a capitalist labour market, employed work has the purpose of profit making, which