Cover: The Social Organization of Early Industrial Capitalism, from Harvard University PressCover: The Social Organization of Early Industrial Capitalism in E-DITION

The Social Organization of Early Industrial Capitalism

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$65.00 • £54.95 • €60.00

ISBN 9780674181533

Publication Date: 04/21/1982

444 pages


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This book offers a fresh and coherent interpretation of nineteenth-century North American social history. Drawing on an enormous data base and ten years of research, the authors show how social structure and mobility, the organization of family life, the ways in which young people passed from childhood to adulthood, and the development of social institutions all intersected with the history of early industrial capitalism.

The authors argue that two great classes—a working class and a business class—dominated North American urban social structure. Both the shape of the class structure and the complex patterns of stratification remained remarkably rigid despite high rates of population turn over. Social mobility, property ownership, and criminal justice reflected and reinforced patterns of social inequality. Yet some facets of life started to change. Young people lived longer than before in the homes of their parents; households lost their boarders and servants; families chose to limit the number of their children. At the same time a network of institutions—mental hospitals, penitentiaries, reform schools, public schools—reshaped the context of social life.

The authors extrapolate from their intensive, primarily quantitative analyses of Hamilton, Ontario, and Buffalo and Erie County, New York. The book utilizes manuscript censuses, tax rolls, city directories, jail and school records, parish registers, and newspapers. The authors’ methods include both descriptive and multivariate analysis as well as research into nonquantitative sources.

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