The textile firm and the management of labour: comparative perspectives on the global textile industry since c 1700

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This paper focuses on the textile firm, providing a comparative examination of the changing patterns of organisation and behaviour amongst employers, managers, and others who controlled production in global textile manufacture since c 1700. Attention is concentrated on five issues: The first section explores labour control mechanisms within pre-industrial and proto-industrial modes of production, examining home-work, artisan and guild textile manufacture, together with the role of merchants in the 'putting-out' system. The second section investigates the textile firm in the era of the modern, mechanised factory system and the evolution of more direct and frequently authoritarian work regimes, tempered in some cases by traditions of company paternalism. The third section explores the responses of textile firms to the challenge of trade unionism and organised workers' protest movements, including the role played by employers' organisations in industrial relations, supported, in some cases, by the state. The fourth section evaluates the key changes in managerial practice in the textile firm associated with scientific management and the bureaucratisation of work in the twentieth century and the extent to which the textiles sector shared in this 'managerial revolution'. The final section makes some brief comments about international and multinational textile firms.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationA Global History of Textile Workers
Number of pages22
Publication statusPublished - 2010


  • textiles
  • textile industry
  • workers
  • industrial revolution
  • british history
  • work

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