The Industrial Revolution: A Compendium edited by Leslie Clarkson, and: British Trade Union and Labour History: A Compendium edited by Leslie Clarkson (review)
- Victorian Review
- Johns Hopkins University Press
- Volume 16, Number 2, Winter 1990
- pp. 81-85
- View Citation
- Additional Information
Reviews81 Owram, Doug. Promise ofEden: The Canadian Expansionist Movement and the Idea of the West 1856-1900. Toronto: U of Toronto P, 1980. Spengemann, William C. A MirrorforAmericanists: Reflections on the Idea ofAmerican Literature. Hanover: UP of New England, 1989. Stang, Richard. 7Ae Theoryofthe Novel in England 1850-1870. London: Routledge, 1959. Tompkins, Jane. Sensational Designs: The Cultural Work ofAmerican Fiction, 1790-1860. New York: OUP, 1985. Trofimenkoff, Susan Mann. The Dream of Nation: A Social and Intellectual History of Québec. Toronto: Gage, 1983. Wellek, René. "Literary History." In Literary Scholarship: Its Aims and Methods. Ed. Norman Foerster. Chapel Hill: U of North Carolina P, 1941. Westfall, William. Two Worlds: The Protestant Culture of Nineteenth Century Ontario. Kingston and Montréal· McGill-Queen's UP, 1989. Zeller, Suzanne. Inventing Canada: Early Victorian Science and the Idea of a Transcontinental Nation. Toronto: U of Toronto P, 1987. I. S. MacLaren University ofAlberta Leslie Clarkson, ed. The Industrial Revolution: A Compendium. Atlantic Highlands, N. J.: Humanities P, 1990. xii + 308. $45.00 US. Leslie Clarkson, ed. British Trade Union and Labour History: A Compendium. Atlantic Highlands, N. J.: Humanities P, 1990. xü + 290. $45.00 US. These volumes each bring together four booklets pubUshed by the Economic History Society in their series Studies in Economic and Social History. Anyone seeking surveys of scholarship on the Industrial Revolution and British Labor History will find intelligent discussion of the issues that have occupied the attention of historians. The volume on the industrial revolution, for example, covers the cotton industry, entrepreneurship, proto-industriaUzation, and the enclosure movement; that on the labor movement contains two surveys of trade union history from 1800 to 1933, and pieces on the labor aristocracy and on women ' s work between 1840 and 1940. Both volumes reflect the range of traditional and revisionist historiographies. S. D. Chapman ' s chapter on "The Cotton Industry and 82Victorian Review the Industrial Revolution," for example, focuses on the role of textiles in driving economic growth and attempts to reconcile the conventional emphasis on the industrial revolution as discontinuity with the now common view of a more drawn-out process of growth. P. L. Payne's "British Entrepreneurship in the Nineteenth Century" surveys the debate on whether the lower growth rates of the late Victorian economy flowed from entrepreneurial failure, and sensibly insists that the question can only be posed within the context of historical patterns and structures set by the industrial revolution itself. The choices made by entrepreneurs in the late nineteenth century were conditioned by the lessons of the past. Thus, the failure to take advantage of Umited UabiUty legislation (which would have encouraged larger, more competitive firms) can hardly be considered irrational given the performance achieved by the private company. Similarly, there was an inherited tradition from the industrial revolution pioneers of neglect of such things as cost accounting and marketing. In this respect Britain faced the economic challenges of the twentieth century burdened less by the failures of its entrepreneurs and more by the products of its past success. Leslie Clarkson ' s own "Profo-Industrialization: The First Phase of Industrialization?" addresses the dynamic of economic change from the front end of the industrial revolution. The theory of protoindustrializationwas developed to explainwhy some regions and industries made the shift from rural home-based industry to urban factories. It has spawned extensive research into the nature of rural industry, family and marriage patterns, pre-industrial market structures, and processes of proletarianization. But Clarkson ' s quietly devastating critique shows its failure as an explanation of industrialization. None of the key linkages used to explain the transition from protoindustry to factory industry can be sustained. For a while rising labor costs were thought to be the critical factor. But these proved difficult to verify and were contradicted by divergent experiences of different countries. Similarly, the claim that family size would increase under conditions of proto-industry was not found to be universally true. In addition, there are difficulties with periodization. Proto-industrial forms in the middle ages were not followed by industrialization, and how do we account for the persistence of proto-industry even in the most highly industrialized economies? These problems point to the...