The giant leap towards machine assisted production from the manual mode of doing things brought with it the benefit of maximizing production output while minimizing cost (Guest, 1823). Things that were formerly done manually were done much faster and in a more efficient manner. This positive effect however is counteracted by the fact that the mechanization process led to the lay off of a lot of laborers especially women. These women, who were typically the wives and daughters of men in the work force; were deprived to participate in means that could provide sustenance for their families their means being that of spinning wool (Observations on the Loss of Woollen Spinning).
While issues involving employment and the effects of the mechanization in the textile manufacturing industry are most obvious in producing dissension between the workers and the owners of the industries; the changes brought about by the Industrial Revolution also led to different social and personal problems among the laborers. For instance, health issues as well as unfit labor conditions rose in number during the said period. Long working hours (Parliamentary Papers, pp. 95 -97), especially those which involve some three hundred thousand little girls, are often sanctioned in order to maintain the factorys manufacturing superiority (Hansard, p. 912).
Health issues on the other hand, arise when machines demand more than what their operators could give. As improvements in machinery fuel production speed, the operators (humans) find it hard to cope with the demands of production work (Fielden, pp. 34 35). Moreover, the conditions involved in factory work are often extreme and unfit, not only for children but also for adults (Gaskell, pp. 202 203).
And if for some unforeseen and unfortunate circumstance, the head of the family dies; his death will incontrovertibly bring about the symbolic death of his family. Not only will his widow be left with the full responsibility of providing for their family (which at her state would be inconceivable); but she is also reduced from the status of well dignified laborer to a parish pauper (Observation¦). Such downward movement in social standing for the widow will not only bring her social problems but a variety of personal problems as well.
Similarly, traditional patterns of livelihood and domestic life are immensely disrupted. Women are the most affected in these turn out of events. Since the majority of laid off laborers are women, these laborers are often forced to seek ways in order to continually provide sustenance for their families. The usual recourse is for women to assume duties that are parallel, if not equal to what their husbands do that being working in the fields which is very much different to working in the wheel at home.
Such situations thus question the idea of the woman being able to perform her domestic as well as economic duties (Observation¦) without sacrificing her well being. Moreover, women, who, on the other hand, are still employed in production houses, become ignorant of their domestic duties (Observation¦). The results then incontrovertibly lead to the disruption in traditional patterns in both domestic life and livelihood.
All in all, the interest of the owners and laborers are not subject under too much friction. Workers believe that the wage they receive often commensurate the effort they give (Parliamentary papers, pp. 44). Also, both owners and workers believe that hard work pays and that the results of mechanization are beneficial.
Fielden, J. (1836). A Cotton Manufacturer on Hours of Labor. The Curse of the Factory System. London, pp. 34-35.
Gaskell, P. (1833). The Physical Deterioration of the Textile Workers. The Manufacturing
Population of England. London, p. 161.
Guest, R. (1823). Compendious History of the Cotton Manufacture. Manchester. pp. 44-48.
Hansard. (1833). Mr. Cobbetts Discovery. Parliamentary Debates, 3rd Series. Vol. XIX, pp.
Observations on the Loss of Woollen Spinning (1974). The Internet Modern History
Sourcebook. Retrieved from at 21 November 2007.
Parliamentary Papers (1832). Evidence Given Before the Sadler Committee. Vol. XV, pp. 95