Sweatshops: The Industrial Revolution In The 19th Century

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“It was back breaking, it was finger-numbing. It was particularly rage-inducing not because it was painfully hard work, but because children hunched over hour after hour, squinted at the threads, cleaned one collar after another, one cuff after another, one arm piece after another until the piles were depleted,” (“My Life as a Sweatshop Worker”). These are the words of Raveena Aulakh, a Toronto Star reporter who worked undercover at a Dhaka, Bangladesh garment factory. The extreme environment illustrated in the reporter’s account develops an image that is known as a sweatshop, which is commonly defined as a shop where workers are employed to manually produce goods at extremely low wages for long hours under substandard conditions. Unfortunately,…show more content…
The popularization of urbanization and the development of labor-productive technology during this time allowed for large corporations to erect to produce desired goods for the rest of the population. With these corporations in desperate need of a source of production, the opportunity rose for sweatshops to make a breakthrough; as a result, employment moved off of the farms and to the upgrading cities as the economy shifted from an agricultural focus towards a more industrial focus (Pugatch). The most prevalent industry to utilize the surging sweatshops was the textile industry specifically in England, New England, and New York (Pugatch). The highly sought textiles around the world helped lead the rise of free trade and globalization, supporting the ascendancy of sweatshops in countries to produce more and higher quality products than competing countries. In these sweatshops, the “sweating system” was emerged and originally referred to the relationship between the manufacturers, subcontractors, and laborers, naturally forming a business hierarchy (“Sweatshops in Urban American History”). According to Charles Kingsley, a priest of the Church of England, “the sweating system is a surviving remnants of the industrial system which preceded the factory system, when industry was chiefly conducted on the piece-price plan, in small shops or homes of the workers,” (Pugatch). In this statement, Kingsley mentions that the system at that time expanded from “sweaters” working in their own homes getting paid depending production levels in a day, to working in factories alongside hundreds of other desperate workers, confined in an insanitary room, earning hourly wages. Although the issue of sweatshops are not as emphasized today as they were in the 19th century, this exact labor structure remains an essential aspect of business that enables corporations to

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