restricted access London in the Age of Industrialization by L.D. Schwarz (review)
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92Victorian Review Legislation included the 1830s factory acts, 1840 child labor legislation, 1860 public health acts, 1870s education acts, 1880 housing legislation. Furthermore, between 1900-1914 bills for child protection, health and nutrition are cited as examples of efforts to improve the quality of children's Uves. The Degeneracy Crisis and Victorian Youth concludes with a réévaluation of the 'degeneracy' crisis and the question of whether the health of the young did in fact degenerate across the nineteenth century. Clearly the Victorian moral entrepreneurs thought it had, but Jordan argues that without accurate contemporary baseUne data and a clear conceptual definition of degeneracy, the 'crisis' is difficult to assess. It is probably more accurate to conceive of degeneracy as part fact and part fiction, as a metaphor for a century of decline, and a cultural artifact of class prejudice and class fear. LINDA MAHOOD University of Lethbridge L.D. Schwarz. London in the Age of Industrialization. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1992. xv + 285. $54.95 CDN (cloth) In this important book, L.D. Schwarz provides much new information on London during the period between 1700 and 1850. Schwarz says his aim is to analyze the connections between London and the process of industrialization. To accomplish this, he has structured his book in three parts. In the first section, Schwarz examines London's economy, concentrating on employment and incomes, and he delineates the capital's social structure. He finds a number of important continuities in London between 1700 and 1850. He points out that manufacturing was always important in the metropolitan economy, but never dominated it. Rather, in the capital, service (including the professions) and dealing were disproportionately important throughout the period. Schwarz disputes K.D.M. Snell's claim that opportunities for women's employment narrowed during this period, arguing instead that the range of work available to women had always been narrow, and remained so during the process of industrialization. Indeed, Schwarz cautiously suggests that the position of women workers in London may have been worse in the eighteenth century than it was in the mid-nineteenth. Like many other historians, Schwarz says the nature of manufacturing in the capital did not change in the one hundred and fifty years of this study: Reviews93 it was, and remained throughout, small-scale production carried out in a multiplicity of workshops and homes. If the structures of employment remained fairly constant in London, so too did the social structure. Using assessed taxation data and insurance policies, Schwarz estimates the size of London's classes and the hierarchy of occupations. He concludes that "by the late seventeenth century if one wanted to make money one had to begin with money. A century later one had to begin with more money, and by the middle of the nineteenth century one needed yet more" (72). In spite of these continuities, Schwarz says that Ufe in London was not secure or always very stable. In the second part of the book he considers the fluctuations in economic activity in the capital, as weU as mortality rates for its population. Schwarz identifies some long-term economic trends, saying conditions were difficult in the second third of the eighteenth century. Thereafter, growth picked up until the 1820s. In the short-term, the frequent outbreaks of war disrupted an economy already sensitive to fluctuations caused by seasonality, irregularity in shipping and inclement weather. Schwarz says that seasonality was "at the heart of the experience of the capital's labour force" (22). The busy and slack seasons so common to many trades at this time were exacerbated in London by the Season and the increased upper-class demand for goods and services that it brought. Schwarz says that all of these factors contributed to the creation of a large pool of marginal workers in various semi-skilled trades. Underlying the long-term economic trends was population growth. Schwarz examines the pattern of mortality in London, and finds a substantial improvement during the period. By the late eighteenth century, London was ceasing to be the sink of mortality for the nation, and by the 1840s, the capital's death rate was comparable to the national rate. Approximately half of this...