urban artisans n.
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URBAN ARTISANS
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  1. URBAN ARTISANS • Prior to the Industrial Revolution, most manufacturing was done by urban artisans • Skilled craftsmen who lived in cities • Worked with simple tools • Worked in their homes or in small shops • Apprentices performed menial work • Most of the rest of the work done by the artisan himself • Real skill was required • Necessitating a period of training

  2. ONE BIG FAMILY • Family life and work were intertwined • Wives sometimes helped with work, kept accounts, and sold finished products • Family lived in the shop • Either in a back room or in the attic • Masters often housed and fed their journeymen and apprentices • Creating a large extended family • Little life outside this extended family

  3. PREMODERN WORK CULTURE • Artisans only worked intensely for short periods • Followed by slower work that allowed talking and singing • Artisans who worked in heat drank alcohol on the job • Did not have a modern work culture since artisans routinely mixed recreation and labor together

  4. CAREER STAGES • Divided into three categories • Apprentices • Journeymen • Masters • Tradition held that each artisan should have the opportunity to pass through all three stages during his productive life

  5. APPRENTICESHIP • Apprenticeship began in early teens and provided essential training for individual’s specialty • Fee had to be paid for entering an apprenticeship and an iron clad contract bound the apprentice to his master for a specified period of time • Tradition attempted to insure fair treatment for the apprentice • Master was required to feed and house him and provide necessary level of training for participation in the trade

  6. JOURNEYMEN • Apprentice usually became a journeyman after training was completed • Worked for wages, often supplemented by food and housing provided by the master • After an appropriate number of years, during which the journeyman was supposed to save money, he might be able to buy or inherit a shop and equipment and become a master • Artisans had a social and economic ladder that they climbed as they gained skill and capital

  7. GUILDS I • Each urban trade had its guild and most had the legal power to deny a worker the right to practice a trade unless he was a member of the organization • In an attempt to limit the number of workers in a given trade in a city • Guilds existed to protect the standard of living and economic opportunities of its members, not to maximize production

  8. GUILDS 2 • Also tried to restrict production so the artisans would receive decent prices for their products • Maintained strict controls over methods of work and prevented innovation in techniques • Stabilized earnings and upheld value of traditional skills • Part of primary goal of protecting the welfare of its members

  9. GUILDS 3 • Also social groups • Sponsored a variety of social functions and supervised trade rituals • Organized funerals for deceased members and provided benefits to their families • Organized parades and celebrations of trade holidays • Ran initiation rituals for apprentices • Had a large influence on artisan’s leisure time as well as his work

  10. LIMITATIONS I • Not all artisans belonged to guilds • Guild traditions occasionally broke down • When large numbers of urban newcomers overwhelmed guild traditions and created competition for jobs and wages among journeymen • When journeymen were overabundant, masters were tempted to convert guilds to serve their own interests—not those of the trade at large

  11. LIMITATIONS II • Guild regulations held that masters should be roughly equal and therefore limited the number of journeymen any single master could employ • But when journeymen were overabundant and cheap, masters sometimes sought to hire more of them than the regulations allowed • Also used guild regulations to block journeymen, except their own sons, from rising to the position of master • Strangled upward mobility within the trade • Journeymen sometimes responded by forming organizations of their own • Guild system never broke down entirely in the 18th century, although it did begin to show signs of weakness

  12. PROBLEMS • Journeymen were intensely dependent on masters • Bossed around by them all day • Often could never afford to marry • Many artisans, even masters, were poor • Only ate starchy, often spoiled, food • Housing was often overcrowded • Suffered from occupational health problems • Lead poisoning for painters and printers • Blindness for tailors • Many were deformed by their work • Not an easy nor secure life, but artisans valued it highly and would struggle to maintain it

  13. INDUSTRIALIZATION • Industrialization did not immediately destroy the artisans • Remained largest urban social group for a long time • As late as 1850, there were as many artisans in England as factory workers • Until the mid to late 19th century, they increased in proportion to overall population growth

  14. REASONS • As population expanded and wealth increased with industrial and agricultural improvements, need for artisans actually rose • New crafts such as machine building created by industrialization • Growing cities required more artisans of various types • Early mechanical processes not applicable to urban artisan trades • Mechanization affected rural spinners and weavers more • Artisans continued to dominate working class of the 19th century in terms of numbers, income, social cohesion, and purpose

  15. DIFFERENCES • Artisans were distinct from factory labor • Worked in different places • Artisans tended to live in city centers while factory workers lived in nearby suburbs • Most artisans viewed factory workers with suspicion and did not want to live near them • Hated factory system and coarseness and violence of factory workers • Never completely identified with factory workers

  16. VALUES • Artisans had a sense of pride of work, status, and dignity that few factory workers possessed • Avoided showy spending on clothing and drink • More inclined to save money than factory workers • Family structure was tighter • Retained an interest in establishing their children in a trade and educated them accordingly • Limited the size of their families by delaying marriage • In the interest of maintaining their material well being and caring properly for their children French cabinet maker and family

  17. MATERIAL CONDITIONS • Material conditions of artisans still varied greatly • Single women had to work long hours to survive • Craftsmen faced with industrial competition had to work longer and longer hours at lower and lower wages to remain competitive • In 1830, silk workers in Lyon had to work 16-18 hours a day to survive • But at the same time, pay levels of carpenters and butchers increased

  18. INSECURE BUT SOLID • Overall, the artisan did not have an easy life • Construction workers suffered from seasonal unemployment • Personal disasters could quickly reduce an artisan family to poverty • Suffered severely during economic crises • Demand for semi-luxury artisan produced products fell more rapidly than demand for factory produced necessities • Food prices always went up • Forced to reduce purchases, pawn possessions, or appeal to charity • Artisans were not destitute in normal times and possessed a small, though insecure, margin above the subsistence level

  19. CLASH OF VALUES • Artisans still saw their economic and social values undermined by the spread of industrialization • The principles of the new industry clashed with principles of an artisan economy

  20. SKILL • Artisans relied on stable skills • Industry involved rapidly changing methods and the use of large numbers of unskilled workers • Skill and training were not completely eliminated but, on the whole, industrial skills were quickly and easily learned and apprenticeship was unnecessary

  21. LIMITS REMOVED • Artisans’ traditional pace of work, involving frequent breaks and holidays, was threatened by new machines • Artisans traditionally had protected themselves against competitive pressure by restricting innovation in techniques and limiting the size of the labor force • These limitations were removed by industry and workers were hired as they were needed and machines introduced at will

  22. GAP • Artisan interest in reducing the degree of inequality in the workplace was also ignored by the new factories • Factory owners acquired great wealth and tried to expand it without limit • The gap between them and their workers was huge • Very rare for a worker to rise to be a factory owner • All the new innovations of the factory system represented a real shock to the artisan emphasis on stability

  23. THE REAL THREAT • Few urban artisans were forced into factories during the early Industrial Revolution • Most factory workers came from the ranks of dispossessed peasants and unskilled urban poor • The threat of the factory system threatened artisans in a more subtle way • It displaced them from their fundamental control of the urban economy

  24. RELATIVE DECLINE • Number of artisans grew during this period and their average earnings increased • But their relative position declined • Factory working class grew faster than number of artisans did • Wealth of entrepreneurial middle class overshadowed any increase in artisan pay • Even some factory workers earned more than artisans • Industry was dynamic and expanding • There was concern that new principle would sooner or later spread into yet unaffected trades

  25. REACTION • It was fear of displacement, more than actual displacement, that dominated artisan activity during the first half of the 19th century • Caused some artisans to attack the factory system • Luddites • Artisans newspapers, pamphlets, and petitions to the government often demanded an end to machines in manufacturing

  26. CHANGING CONDITIONS • Rise of the upper middle class to dominance after the French Revolution (and their emphasis on “free trade”) allowed them to abolish guilds • Changed relationship between masters and journeymen • Masters began to protect their social and economic position in a changing economy by limiting their ranks • Some became employers and stopped performing any manual labor

  27. MORE CHANGE • Social relations between masters and journeymen also changed • Became less common for masters to house and feed journeymen • Masters also intensified practice of reserving masterships only for their sons • Gradual development of permanent wage-earning statusfor journeymen was a shock to the artisan tradition • Which had formerly valued upward mobility, rough equality, and a family-like relationship between master and journeymen

  28. DECLINE OF APPRENTICESHIP • Apprenticeship also declined • Masters now expected the children they hired to work, not learn • Journeymen became increasingly reluctant to delay their work by training a kid • Aspects of industrial organization were being applied to the skilled trades without the actual introduction of machine

  29. SUMMARY • The artisan lost the social and economic protection of his guild at the same time as the personal ties between master and journeyman were weakening • The place of the city of the artisan in the city also slipped as factory workers became more numerous and the upper middle class seized exclusive control of urban governments