Working Condition

Working today is usually quite safe. The government has made laws saying that employers have to look after the workforce and provide safety equipment and other things for them. At the start of the Industrial Revolution none of these laws existed and so working in a factory could prove to be very dangerous indeed. This section looks at some of the conditions faced by workers and offers a brief explanation of what was done to improve these conditions.

Industries such as the cotton trade were particularly hard for workers to endure long hours of labour. The nature of the work being done meant that the workplace had to be very hot, steam engines contributing further to the heat in this and other industries. Machinery was not always fenced off and workers would be exposed to the moving parts of the machines whilst they worked. Children were often employed to move between these dangerous machines as they were small enough to fit between tightly packed machinery. This led to them being placed in a great deal of danger and mortality (death rates) were quite high in factories. Added to the dangers of the workplace also consider the impact of the hours worked. It was quite common for workers to work 12 hour s or more a day, in the hot and physically exhausting work places. Exhaustion naturally leads to the worker becoming sluggish (slow), which again makes the workplace more dangerous.

Not all factories were as bad as the scenario highlighted above. Robert owen and Titus salt for example were both regarded as good employers in this respect. They were amongst a group of people who were known as reformers. These people wanted changes to the way that factories were run. They faced opposition from other mill owners who knew that reforms would cost them money and give the workers more rights. (They wanted to make as much profit as possible remember, that is the purpose of manufacturing in a capitalist country).

Most of this work were done be immigrants and slaves

Primary Source

The Conditions of the Working Class in England in 1844. Engels grew up in Prussia (Germany) and was the son of a wealthy German cotton manufacture. As a radical journalist and critic of industrialization, he sought to make the public aware of the poor conditions of workers and the negative effects of industrialization. His parents sent him to work in a factory in Manchester, England, hoping it would change his radical thouhts. It had the opposite effect. Engels later partnered with Karl Marx to write The Communist Manifesto in 1848. He supported Marx financially so that he could write his famous book, Das Kapital. Engels lived form 1820 to 1895.

Manchester proper lies on the left bank of the Irwell, between that stream and the two smaller ones, the Irk and the Medlock, which here empty into the Irwell. . . . The whole assemblage of buildings is commonly called Manchester, and contains about four hundred thousand inhabitants, rather more than less. The town itself is peculiarly built, so that a person may live in it for years, and go in and out daily without coming into contact with a working-people's quarter or even with workers, that is, so long as he confines himself to his business or to pleasure walks. This arises chiefly from the fact, that by unconscious tacit agreement, as well as with outspoken conscious determination, the working people's quarters are sharply separated from the sections of the city reserved for the middle-class; . . .

I may mention just here that the mills [factories] almost all adjoin the rivers or the different canals that ramify throughout the city, before I proceed at once to describe the labouring quarters. First of all, there is the old town of Manchester, which lies between the northern boundary of the commercial district and the Irk. Here the streets, even the better ones, are narrow and winding, as Todd Street, Long Millgate, Withy Grove, and Shude Hill, the houses dirty, old, and tumble-down, and the construction of the side streets utterly horrible. Going from the Old Church to Long Millgate, the stroller has at once a row of old-fashioned houses at the right, of which not one has kept its original level; these are remnants of the old pre-manufacturing Manchester, whose former inhabitants have removed with their descendants into better built districts, and have left the houses, which were not good enough for them, to a population strongly mixed with Irish blood. Here one is in an almost undisguised working-men's quarter, for even the shops and beer houses hardly take the trouble to exhibit a trifling degree of cleanliness. But all this is nothing in comparison with the courts and lanes which lie behind, to which access can be gained only through covered passages, in which no two human beings can pass at the same time. Of the irregular cramming together of dwellings in ways which defy all rational plan, of the tangle in which they are crowded literally one upon the other, it is impossible to convey an idea. And it is not the buildings surviving from the old times of Manchester which are to blame for this; the confusion has only recently reached its height when every scrap of space left by the old way of building has been filled up and patched over until not a foot of land is left to be further occupied.

Historical Stimuli

sometimes referred to as instrumental learning, is a method of learning that occurs through rewards and punishments for behavior. It encourages the subject to associate desirable or undesirable outcomes with certain behaviors. Instrumental conditioning was first discovered and published by Jerzy Konorski and was also referred to as Type II reflexes. Mechanisms of instrumental conditioning suggest that the behavior may change in form, frequency, or strength. The expressions “operant behavior” and “respondent behavior" were popularized by B.F. Skinner who worked on reproduction of Konorski’s experiments. Operant behavior means that “a response is followed by a reinforcing stimulus”.

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