England's Great Transformation: Law, Labor, And The Industrial Revolution

Paperback | April 4, 2016

byMarc W. Steinberg

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With England’s Great Transformation, Marc W. Steinberg throws a wrench into our understanding of the English Industrial Revolution, largely revising the thesis at heart of Karl Polanyi’s landmark The Great Transformation. The conventional wisdom has been that in the nineteenth century, England quickly moved toward a modern labor market where workers were free to shift from employer to employer in response to market signals. Expanding on recent historical research, Steinberg finds to the contrary that labor contracts, centered on insidious master-servant laws, allowed employers and legal institutions to work in tandem to keep employees in line.

Building his argument on three case studies—the Hanley pottery industry, Hull fisheries, and Redditch needlemakers—Steinberg employs both local and national analyses to emphasize the ways in which these master-servant laws allowed employers to use the criminal prosecutions of workers to maintain control of their labor force. Steinberg provides a fresh perspective on the dynamics of labor control and class power, integrating the complex pathways of Marxism, historical institutionalism, and feminism, and giving readers a subtle yet revelatory new understanding of workplace control and power during England’s Industrial Revolution.

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With England’s Great Transformation, Marc W. Steinberg throws a wrench into our understanding of the English Industrial Revolution, largely revising the thesis at heart of Karl Polanyi’s landmark The Great Transformation. The conventional wisdom has been that in the nineteenth century, England quickly moved toward a modern labor market...

Marc W. Steinberg is professor of sociology at Smith College. He is the author of Fighting Words: Working-Class Formation, Collective Action and Discourse in Early Nineteenth-Century England. He lives in Massachusetts.

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:256 pages, 9 × 6 × 0.6 inPublished:April 4, 2016Publisher:University of Chicago PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:022632995X

ISBN - 13:9780226329956

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Extra Content

Table of Contents

Preface
Part I
1. Introduction
2. The Labor Process and Beyond
3. Law, Institutions, and Labor Control: Theory and History
Part II: Introduction to the Case Studies
4. Hanley and the Pottery Industry
5. Hull and the Fishing Trade
6. Redditch, Commercial Agriculture, Needle Manufacturing and Small-Town Justice
Part III
7. Retelling The Great Transformation
8. Conclusion
Notes
Bibliography
Index

Editorial Reviews

“Steinberg returns us to the question of labor control in nineteenth-century England, and in meticulous detail shows how the law becomes an instrument of capitalist exploitation. England’s Great Transformation’s focus on the legal basis of work organization is not only of historical significance—it is as pertinent to today’s on-demand economy as it is to Chinese state capitalism. A thrilling book that plunges into the important debates about the nature of workplace politics.”