Mechanics and Manufacturers in the Early Industrial Revolution: Lynn, Massachusetts, 1780-1860

By Paul G. Faler | Go to book overview

3. A Community of Mechanics

The categories of manufacturer, cutter, binder and journeymen are economic ones that explain the particular function people performed in the production and distribution of shoes under the putting out system. They also define the economic realtionship of one to another and to the means of production as well. But they are not social terms. It is, therefore, unacceptable to use these categories as tools for understanding the framework of social relations and institutions that constituted the society of which the domestic system of manufacture, and the economic relations within it, was a single aspect. Nor can one assume, on the other hand, that membership in one or another of these categories was of no importance in determining relations outside the market place. Both forms of deductive logic are unsound as historical methods for ascertaining what actually happened and why.

The second is based on a view of society in which economic, social, and political activity are separate and distinct realms of experience, each with a unique and autonomous set of relationships. Applied to history, this approach recognizes, at best, only the most tenuous and imprecise connection between changes in one sphere and corresponding, but often delayed, alterations in another. The first interpretation professes belief in an organic society in which nothing may occur that does not affect the other parts. Like the human body, a malady in a vital organ produces symptoms elsewhere. If the interpreter applies the hypothesis of economic determinism to history and sees in capitalism an exploitative relationship between boss and worker, he assumes the presence, in all areas of society, of the antagonisms of the two forces contesting for supremacy. But too often the practitioner of this approach resorts to a mechanistic determinism so strong that it violates the premise of organic social development: the reciprocal relationship between the spheres of experience that constitute society. Instead, eco-

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Mechanics and Manufacturers in the Early Industrial Revolution: Lynn, Massachusetts, 1780-1860
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Maps and Tables vii
  • Preface ix
  • Introduction xv
  • 1. Lynn--The First Century 1
  • 2. Rise of the Shoe Industry 8
  • 3. a Community of Mechanics 28
  • 4. Rise of the Shoe Manufacturers 58
  • 5. the Shoemakers: Wages and Other Standards 77
  • 6. the Origins of Industrial Morality 100
  • 7. Lynn and the New Industrial Morality: "A Well-Regulated Republic in Miniature" 109
  • 8. Patterns of Mobility and Property Ownership 139
  • 9. the Formation of Class Consciousness: Experience and Ideology 164
  • 10. the Social Dimensions of the Class Experience 189
  • 11. the Great Shoemakers' Strike 222
  • Notes 234
  • Bibliography 256
  • Index 263
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