Technology and Society: The Influence of Machines in the United States

By S. Mckee Rosen ; Laura Rosen | Go to book overview

CHAPTER Xl
MACHINES AND THE WORKER: A CASE STUDY
OF THE CIGAR INDUSTRY

Technology and Man.No essential part of the economic system exists in isolation. Social scientists as well as laymen are becoming more and more aware of the way in which the various factors which constitute the modern order are closely linked. Complex interrelationships existing between the industrialist, the consumer, and the laborer can best be illustrated by selecting an industry, then outlining its evolution. The well-known words "demand" and "supply" take on meaning when analyzed apropos of a live situation. Throughout history the manufacturer has sought to adjust costs of production and selling price per unit of output in such a way as to insure the highest possible profits. The consumer has sought to satisfy his tastes and his pocketbook. The laborer has conformed, in the main, with the existing scheme of things. Because in many instances (except where he is militantly organized) the worker is a passive factor, he is most likely to be injured as adjustments are made. Time has shown, too, that the small manufacturer is likely to be "squeezed out" of his place in industry. Far-sighted and wealthy business men see mechanization as a worthwhile investment. The weak and the poor soon fall by the wayside. Machines are introduced by the advance guard. Technology is machinery. Technology, then, is at the root of economic change—change which affects the industrialist, the consumer, and most of all the laborer.

The following account of the cigar industry aims to illustrate some of the ramifications resulting from rapid mechanization in manufacturing. The cigar industry has been selected because reliable data covering this enterprise are

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