Social Aspects of Industry: A Survey of Labor Problems and Causes of Industrial Unrest

By S. Howard Patterson | Go to book overview
Modern methods of production are also dangerous, monotonous, and fatiguing. Moreover, the use of power machinery has meant the loss of ownership of the instruments of production by the workers, and the factory system has resulted in the loss of control by the employees over the conditions of their employment. Modern industrialism has also made our modern economic society extremely interdependent, highly standardized, and very impersonal.The dilemma of modern industrialism merely means the social costs of economic progress, that is, the relative advantages and disadvantages of the Industrial Revolution. It would seem that technological progress in the arts of production has been much greater than our social adjustment to the changed economic environment. The present social unrest is due to the existence of numerous maladjustments and to the desire to eliminate them.Causes of industrial unrest are inadequate wages, subnormal standards of living, economic inequality, child labor, excessive hours, poor working conditions, industrial accidents, occupational diseases, and unemployment. Symptons of industrial unrest are to be found in a high rate of labor turnover and numerous industrial conflicts, such as strikes, lockouts, and boycotts.Progress represents a conscious evolution or a purposive adjustment toward certain economic goals or social ideals. Adjustment may be evolutionary or revolutionary, according to whether the process is relatively slow or rapid. Economic progress has been made by the state through legislation, by organized labor through collective bargaining, and by individual employers who have voluntarily introduced experimental and humanitarian projects. Social adjustment may take the form of a modification of our present economic system, as suggested by conservative labor leaders, or by its complete reorganization, as demanded by syndicalists and certain socialists.Prosperity is an important economic ideal of a progressive society. It may be defined as the relative abundance of economic goods. Economic prosperity involves not only increased production, but also a more equitable distribution. Efficiency implies maximum production with minimum effort. Conservation is a supplementary ideal, for it implies minimum waste. Human conservation is even more important than the conservation of our natural resources. Industrial cooperation seeks the elimination of conflict but not of competition. Competition should be socially regulated and directed through economical rather than uneconomical channels. Industrial democracy and equality of opportunity are also relatively new but important economic ideals.
Collateral Reading
ADAMS T. S. and SUMNER H. L., "Labor Problems", chap. 1.
ATKINS W. E. and LASSWELL H. D., "Labor Attitudes and Problems"," chap. 1.

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