Family Formation in an Age of Nascent Capitalism by David Z. Levine

By David Z. Levine

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It w a s a c o m m o n c o m p l a i n t that e a r n i n g s w e r e r e d u c e d b y m a s t e r s o r m i d d l e m e n w h o c l a i m e d that t h e g o o d s w e r e defective o r d a m a g e d . J o h n B u m , a S h e p s h e d f r a m e w o r k knitter, said that "if h e finds t h e least s p o t u p o n t h e m h e d o c k s y o u 9 d . o r I s . "^^ O t h e r ploys u s e d to r e d u c e p a y m e n t s w e r e t h o s e of giving the w o r k m a n less t h a n t h e c o n t r a c t e d p r i c e o r c l a i m i n g that his g o o d s did n o t m e e t t h e n e c e s s a r y specifications.

O l d m e n a n d learners w e r e also e x p e c t e d to p a y full r e n t , as w e r e sick o r c o m p l e t e l y u n e m p l o y e d w o r k e r s . I n a d d i t i o n to t h e s e forms of direct exploitation, the p r a c t i c e of f r a m e rental w a s also partly r e s p o n s i b l e for the o v e r s u p p l y of l a b o r that w a s at t h e r o o t of the d e t e r i o r a t i n g w a g e r a t e s . ^"* F o r s o m e e m p l o y e r s , f r a m e r e n t w a s m o r e l u c r a t i v e t h a n the actual sale of f i n i s h e d p r o d u c t s .

F o r 1 1 1 l a b o r e r s ' h o u s e h o l d s t h e r e w e r e 8 9 e m p l o y e d c h i l d r e n , w h i l e in t h e 1 0 1 t r a d e a n d c r a f t h o u s e h o l d s t h e r e w e r e just 5 0 e m p l o y e d youngsters. 57 T h i s figure w a s 4 6 % o f t h e t o t a l l a b o r f o r c e i n t h e s t o c k i n g i n d u s t r y . ( P . P . , 1 8 4 3 , X I V , "Children's E m p l o y m e n t C o m m i s s i o n ; a p p e n d i x to the s e c o n d r e p o r t of the C o m m i s s i o n e r s ( T r a d e s a n d M a n u f a c t u r e r s ) .

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