PRINCETON UNIVERSITY
DEPARTMENT OF HISTORY

History 398 - Spring 2003
Technologies and Their Societies: Historical Perspectives

Second Essay
Mid-Course Bearings

Write an essay of 1500 words on one of the following topics. Since history is fundamentally an empirical disipline, your response should set forth an argument supported by specific evidence drawn from the lectures, readings, and precept discussions pertinent to the subject.

I

"In the final analysis, the Industrial Revolution is about society, not technology.  The new power machinery, the steam engine, and the factory system brought radical change to the processes of production, raising both output and productivity to new levels.  But that is merely a matter of quantity.  What made the change revolutionary were the social and economic transformations through which the new systems of production affected the quality of people's lives.  Whether or not they had more in 1850 than in 1760, they lived differently."
Do you agree or disagree with this claim about the relation of technology and social change in England during the Industrial Revolution?  What evidence from the readings and lectures best supports your position?  What evidence argues against it?
 

II

"The factory was more than just a larger work unit. It was a system of production resting on a characteristic definition of the functions and responsibilities of the different participants in the productive process." (David S. Landes, The Unbound Prometheus)
Using evidence from the lectures and readings, identify the participants, both seen and unseen, in the productive process pictured above and describe how each acquired his or her functions and responsibilities.  

III

Marx's view of industrialization was based on the experience of England.  How well does his analysis apply to early industrialization in the United States, as set out in the readings and lectures?    

IV

"While the domestic system had implied some measure of control, 'it was ... an essentially new thing for the capitalist to be a disciplinarian. [...] The capitalist employer became a supervisor in every detail of the work:  without any change in the general character of the wage contract, the employer acquired new powers which were of great social significance.'  The concept of industrial discipine was new, and called for as much innovation as the technical innovations of the age."  (Pollard, "Factory Discipline in the Industrial Revolution", English Historical Review 16(1963), 259; quoting Usher, Intro. to Industrial Hist. of Engl.(1921), 348)
Using specific evidence from the readings and lectures, discuss the nature of this new industrial discipline and how it was imposed upon workers in the new factories of England and America.  In what ways did the the process of disciplining, and resistance to it, differ among the various sites of nineteenth-century industrialization we have looked at, i.e. the English factory, Rockdale, Lowell, and Harpers Ferry?  In what ways were they similar?
 
 

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Essays are due by 3:00 PM Tuesday, 8 April, in your preceptor's box in the History Department Office, 129 Dickinson Hall.  Seniors with theses due during the week of 8 April may have an extension until 3:00 PM Friday, 11 April.