Poor Work Conditions In The 1850s


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Poor Work Conditions in the 1850's
Work is a very important part of everyone's life. Work leads to wages, which then leads to the lifestyle you may live. Between 1750 and 1850, work transformed greatly in Europe. It changed all types of aspects of work including where you work, what you do, and how much you may get paid for it. Industrial capitalism transformed greatly in a century; however work continued to decline with the advancement of time. Therefore, work was better in 1750 then it was in 1850.
"The worker therefore only feels himself outside his work, and in his work feels outside himself" (134.). This statement was said by Karl Marx while he was talking about the alienation of labor. The alienation of labor was simply separating a person from his or her skill. "Each person-man, woman or child-must be paid in proportion to his contribution in capital, work and talent" (117). This implied that people should be paid according to their skills. In the 1750's work was much more skillful than it was in the 1850's. In 1750 people would work depending on what they were good at. For example, someone who was good at making shoes would be a shoemaker. In 1850 the alienation of labor took these skills away from people because they would do a simple task in a factory such as pulling a lever. Basically, in 1850 people's labor skills were being wasted because they were stuck in a factory doing a simple task.
"Work sessions must be varied about eight times a day because a man cannot remain enthusiastic about his job…" ( 117). This statement was a suggestion made by Charles Fourier, who wanted work to become better. This statement talks about division of labor. Division of labor was a direct result of industrial capitalism, and it created alienation of labor. In 1750 workers would do the same thing such as making shoes. Their means of production would simply be small tools. In 1850 they would do many boring things instead of just one. Also, their means of production would include bigger, more technological advances that not everyone would be able to run. This "improvement" still made work very boring. Work in the 1750's was more exciting than work in the 1850's.

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"The object which labour produces labour's product" (133). This statement was made by Karl Marx, and can show how the meaning and value of labor is affected by this transformation of work from 1750 to 1850. In 1750 work was valued highly because people were doing what they were good at. However, in 1850, work was not valued highly because people were doing tedious jobs that they did not like. Usually, people did better work when they liked the work they were doing in 1750. In 1850, people did not like their boring jobs, so they might not have worked as hard.
"Workshops, fields, and gardens must offer the worker the enticements of elegance and cleanliness" (117). This was another one of Fourier's conditions that he thought would improve work in the 1850's. In 1750 people worked inside their houses. Working at your own house would make someone feel more relaxed and comfortable and more labor would get done. Also, working in your house allowed you to work with people you were familiar with such as friends and family. In 1850, people had to work in factories. The factory conditions were very dangerous and very boring. There were not any flowers, paintings, etc. Also, you were not working with friends or family, so not as much work would get done. If you compared the two environments, a household was much more appealing to work in.
"Men work without enthusiasm, slowly and with loathing" (116). In 1850, a major reason why men worked without enthusiasm was the sixteen-hour workday. In 1750, people would control the pace and rhythms of their work. They were able to take Mondays off and drink beer, which makes work more enjoyable when you are able to work at your own pace. In 1850, people could not control the pace of their work. Sometimes they had to work sixteen-hour shifts just to get by. They were not able to drink beer; instead they had to drink tea with sugar. The pace and rhythms of work were more enjoyable in the 1750's than in the 1850's.
"The proletariat is that class of society which lives exclusively by its labour and not on the profit…" (100). In 1750, the proletariat did not exist. In 1850, the proletariat rose and was very important. This was not good because it basically ruined the middle class. The proletariat was a problem because there were fewer jobs in factories because of them. In 1750, people basically ran their own businesses. They did not have to worry about finding a job. In 1850, the proletariat was a very hard working group of people who worked for a lower wage. This made finding jobs tough because not everyone works hard. The proletariat eliminated jobs for several people.
All in all, working conditions kept getting worse with the advancement of times. Industrial capitalism transformed work greatly between 1750 and 1850. However, 1750 was a better time to work. If you have to work you should do something you enjoy and obviously not everyone enjoys what he/she does. It is for this reason that you have movies made like Office Space, that completely bash work.


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