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

By Sigmund Nosow; William H. Form | Go to book overview

have little tradition of shoemaking and know little of the prestige formerly associated with the craft. Hence, they are less resistant to the mechanization of the shoe industry than are the groups which made shoes in the old days. Then, too, the newer ethnics are, because of their social insecurity, less likely to band together in effective opposition to management than are the older residents of the community. Especially is this true if the factory hires individuals of various ethnic groups, thus utilizing ethnic prejudices to reduce worker solidarities. It may also be due to the general insecurity of the newer ethnics that the factory can pay them less than it would natives, Irish, or French. This is suggested by our finding that, except for the Greeks, all the newer ethnics--the "foreigners" in the factory--averaged less in earnings than did the natives, Irish, and French. In the assembling department, where a direct comparison was possible because the pay was on a time basis, the native workers averaged 38.4 cents per hour; the combined ethnics averaged 2 cents per hour less.


NOTES
1.
The classification of workers by sex, age, ethnicity, social status, etc., is based on the analysis of 985 shoe operatives as of 1935. Further correlations of these characteristics will be made later.
2.
This discrepancy is probably largely accounted for by the greater speed of the men, as the workers were paid on a piecework basis. There was no basic differential in piecework pay between men and women in similar jobs.
3.
See W. L. Warner and J. O. Low, The Social Systems of American Ethnic Groups, "Yankee City Series," New Haven: Yale University Press, 1945. particularly pp. 1-102 and pp. 281-296.

4. THE CONFLICT OF CASTE AND CLASS IN AN AMERICAN INDUSTRY ·

Charles S. Johnson

Tobacco holds a unique place in American history. It was the first commercial staple crop of any consequence, and its manufacture became the first notable industry in the South. It helped to shape the social as well as the economic institutions of the colony of Virginia and, through the export trade with England, ultimately supplied an economic basis for American independence itself. Despite its ultimate value as a commercial crop, tobacco production would have scarcely had the economic importance it so early gained without the slave labor which multiplied its profits. Thus began an early and significant association of Negro labor with the commodity, which extended from cultivation of the plant, through the stages of leaf preparation, to the manufacture of the finished commodity.

Just as free labor drove out slavery in Pennsylvania, where there was no such suitable commercial staple, slavery drove out free and indentured labor in Virginia, where a staple crop flourished. The tobacco factories

-142-

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