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46 2 Children in Industry Demographic and Social Context Great changes occurred in the Russian economy during the middle decades of the nineteenth century. By 1850, a new capitalist mode of production had begun to challenge traditional manufacturing systems. Manorial and state factories showed signs of continued decline,1 whereas free market enterprise began to expand rapidly.2 The largest children’s employer, the cotton industry, experienced the most remarkable development of all the industrial segments. The mechanization of the industry during the 1840s and 1850s—the earliest stage of Russia’s industrialization —created a great need for unskilled and auxiliary workers.3 The rapid development of new capitalist forms of production also spurred important changes in the employment system. In contrast to state and manorial factories, where hereditary serf labor dominated, and in contrast to domestic forms of manufacturing, which relied on the labor of family members, new capitalist enterprises employed contracted wage laborers. By the 1850s, free labor had supplanted bound labor as the prevailing type of industrial employment.4 With these developments as a basis, during the second half of the nineteenth century, Russian industrialization entered a dynamic phase of expansion. During this period, rapid population growth and changes in the rural economy complemented the accelerating tempo of the capitalist economy . After the 1861 reform, millions of rural residents, adults and chil- dren, sought industrial employment. Overall, the population of the empire increased from 73.6 million in 1861 to 131.7 million in 1900, although the most significant growth occurred in European Russia.5 The urban population grew from 5.7 million in 1857 to 26.3 million in 1914.6 This rapid increase in urban dwellers resulted mostly from peasant migration from the countryside. Facing economic hardship in the village, some peasant families moved to industrial centers where they hoped to find employment or better opportunities.7 According to the demographic historian A. G. Rashin, the number of industrial workers grew from 706,000 in 1865 to 1,432,000 in 1890. Although frequently cited, such figures for the late nineteenth century cover only workers reported by factory inspectors and do not include large workforces in state metallurgical, mining , textile, and military industries; on railroads; in small factories and workshops; and so on. According to the 1897 census, industrial and agricultural wage workers accounted for 9,144,000 persons, including about 1,100,000 children under the age of fifteen.8 Thus, children comprised a considerable part of factory and other forms of wage labor. During 1879–85, about 33 percent of the Moscow province’s factory workers began their employment under the age of twelve, 31 percent between the ages of twelve and fourteen.9 Whatfactorsinfluencedchildren’sfactoryemploymentduringindustrialization ? What changes did industrialization bring to the traditional practices of child productive labor? Why did owners of newly mechanized industries employ children, and what kinds of work did children typically perform in these factories? In exploring these questions, it becomes clear that those whom scholars routinely generalize, sight unseen, as “the working class” consisted, along with adults, of large numbers of children, both boys and girls. Statistics and Dynamics of Child Factory Labor during Russian Industrialization In 1882, the medical doctor N. F. Mikhailov described one industrial giant: “When one approaches the factory building, this enormous 1,613yard -long beast, one cannot even guess that the mouth of this animal abChildren in Industry: Demographic and Social Context    47 48    Children in Industry: Demographic and Social Context sorbs a huge mass of children.”10 Mikhailov’s admittedly melodramatic statement nevertheless brings to mind the striking reality that children represented a significant segment of the labor force. How many children actually entered factory labor during industrialization in Russia, and what were the characteristics of their employment? Estimating the number of children employed in industries during early Russian industrialization still presents a daunting task. Statistics on child labor are abundant but highly fragmentary and limited to certain industrial regions or to groups of individual factories. During the 1850s and 1860s, no statewide comprehensive survey of factory labor in Russia, much less child labor, had yet been conducted. The absence of systematic data and regular surveys of child labor reflects the government’s lack of coherent concern about children’s employment in industries at that time. As noted in chapter 1, the state did not view child factory labor as a serious social issue and continued to accept it as a means of teaching children industrial professions and preparing them for...


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