• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

One of the most controversial issues of British Economic History is the living standards during the industrial revolution. ''Pessimists'' against ''optimists'' oppose their ideas about whether the standards of living during the industrial revolution impro

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

British Economic History Supervision 4 Supervisor:Dr. D. M. Fowler by:Lambros Diamandopoulos ''Qualitative aspects of living standards, such as the disamenities of urban living, have become the decisive factors in evaluating whether the English working classes benefited from Industrial Revolution''. Introduction One of the most controversial issues of British Economic History is the living standards during the industrial revolution. ''Pessimists'' against ''optimists'' oppose their ideas about whether the standards of live during the industrial revolution improved,deteriorated or remained stable. On the one hand,optimists like Jeffrey G.Williamson, held the view that although some workers suffered from harsh working conditions and were working more days,the increase in real wages could offset these disamenities and as a whole,the majority of people lived from 1760 to 1850 benefited from the industrial revolution in terms of standards of life. On the other hand,pessimists like Charles H. Feinstein argued that the living standards of life deteriorated for the working class in early industrialisation. The main difference in the perception of judging the living standards between optimists and pessimists is the distinction between the importance of qualitative and quantitative factors that influenced the lives of workers during industrialisation. On the ''quantitative side'',optimists base the arguments on real wages,life expectancy and on the move to the cities away from the ''idiocy of rural life''.1 On the ''qualitative side'' pessimists count on more intangible aspects, like political rights,work discipline,hours of work,fertility and infant mortality. To answer to this really controversial issue of standards of life of working class during industrial revolution we have to weight the any qualitative benefits in real wages and to subtract any losses of qualitative factors. ...read more.

Middle

Pessimists argue that if nominal wages are ''deflated'' by qualitative factors,then this increase in wages will not be so significant. Working Hours The industrial revolution has been synonymous with long hours of arduous toil often by children and women who were working under unhealthy conditions. The working years in 'Europe's dark satanic mills' were the longest recorded in human history and compared to these,the working week in the Third World Today seems to be short. The question that rises immediately is if these exhausting working schedules existed before the Industrial Revolution or created as a consequence of the higher demand of labour force during industrialisation. Unfortunately,the figures for working hours before the Industrial Revolution are very rare and pre-industrial societies seem to had irregular hours of work. This increase in working hours during industrialisation can be explained by the fact that factories in order to be more competent had to intensify the production which in turn led to more consistent hours of work. The same applies for the agricultural sector since capitalist agriculture requires more discipline among the labour force. Voth6 in 2001 using court records of the Old Bailey in London,concluded that male workers in 1830 and in 1850 were working more than their great-grandparents did in 1760.Voth also found that hours of work increased by maybe 23% but they remained at this level before they start falling again. This increase however was not a result of bigger working days,but it seems that people were working more days during the year. ...read more.

Conclusion

Pressure on the press was even higher in times of social suppression like for example the period of 'six Acts' in 1819.However,the reduction in stamp duty after 1836 and the right for defense of truth against a charge of criminal libel,led to the increase of newspaper circulation and to the creation of radical organs like the Chartist Northern Star (1837) Conclusion The fact that there is still the debate between pessimists and optimists,indicates that neither side could provide unambiguous arguments to support its views. On the one side of the coin,pessimists argue that any increase in the real wages occurred because of the increase in working hours in unhealthy,dark and disease-ridden environment. Apart from this,the transition from rural areas to industrialised cities with high mortality and especially infant mortality,reduced more any benefits from higher real wages. On the other side of the coin,very hardly can anyone not be optimist in the long run. The period of 1750-1850 allowed Britain to escape from Malthusian constraints and become a modern industrial country. In my opinion,an individual can judge the standards of life of the working class during industrial revolution according to his/her own beliefs of what really is significant. If the most important is the real wages,then for sure optimists would ''win'' in this debate ,whereas if what really matters is the quality of the environment in which one grows then the opposite would happen. It is the eternal dispute between quality and quantity. There will always be fanatic supporters of both sides. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our University Degree 1800-1899 section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Here's what a teacher thought of this essay

4 star(s)

This essay explores the main themes well and covers all areas of the topic in reasonable depth. It makes a decent argument, although this could be developed further, and more closely argued.

4 stars.

Marked by teacher Rachel Smith 02/05/2012

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related University Degree 1800-1899 essays

  1. To what extent can Napoleon be seen as "heir to the revolution" in his ...

    Another notable area of Napoleon's financial reforms is his Continental Blockade. It was setup to eliminate Britain's capacity for military involvement on continental Europe, and to promote French industry, trade, and technology; therefore adopting a "France first policy". Initially Napoleon did bring immense benefit to France; however it proved to

  2. Benin art - what can it tell us about cross-cultural encounters?

    gone, the natives were unable to produce these sophisticated artworks and resorted in savagery. This was confirmation of their incapability to progress without assistance. These lines in the text are important in cross-cultural encounters as it clearly tells the reader about the early 20th century British attitude about Africa.

  1. British transport during the Industrial Revolution

    Wind was the chief source of power for coastal shipping, and horses were used on the inland water ways. Horse power was also an important source for transport on roads, which I will discuss in the next part of this essay.

  2. "Discuss the aims of the Congress of Vienna and the Consequences it had on ...

    They also wanted to see the return of the monarchy in France. France got the return of the monarchy and was not several punished. They also got back some colonies such as Guadeloupe from Sweden, and the isle of bourdon from Britain.

  1. "Hero or Villain?" Evaluate the contribution of Napoleon Bonaparte to French history in terms ...

    When this news reached Napoleon he stopped the fight England and created an economic "embargo" and went to invade Prussia and Russia. The plan was to economically destroy England while militarily defeating Russia and Prussia. These battles were costly but France came out victorious on all three occasions, defeating Prussia in 1806 and Russia one year later.

  2. Assess the interpretations of French historians and Pieter Geyl on Napoleon.

    The historical debate on Napoleon has followed a progression of historiographical periods, roughly coinciding with important events in the French state. The French Revolution, which began in 1789, impacted the interpretations of historians drastically. When the French revolutionaries drew up the Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen in

  1. Open University. What evidence is there in the extract above of the three explanations ...

    An inclusive cultural community had a great effect on the support of Chartism but it wasn?t the most dominant one. The national political movement was the most important benefactor of Chartism. In the extracts from the speech ?the poor crushed beneath the Alpine mountain weight of taxation? demolish dukedom

  2. In this essay I shall consider how all three explanations contributed to Chartisms support ...

    To begin with I shall consider economic pressure. Paragraph four of the extract focuses on this factor[i], the speaker makes several remarks which relate to and evidences the audience?s poverty such as ?ragged clothing?, ?insufficiency of food?, and ?insufferable despair?. Chartism attracted support by instilling hopefulness that if democracy was put into practice, people?s economic anguish would lessen,

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work