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Effects of the Industrial Revolution - Leeds, Uk

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Effects of the Industrial Revolution - Leeds, Uk

The family

So as well as imposing cuts the Conservative party is waging an ideological war against single mothers and in favour of the family. In this respect Capitalism has changed little since its birth. The industrial revolution saw the expounding of the nuclear family as the only acceptable model in society. Responsibilities for child care, housing, health and care of the elderly no longer lay with the community or with the lord of the manor. Instead it was expected that the smaller unit of the nuclear family would undertake all care for the workforce.

Economic circumstance forced women to act as nurses, childminders, cooks and cleaners. Similarly men were forced to sell their labour power to provide food and accommodation. The state reaped the rewards of a self catering, cheaply maintained workforce without having any role in the upkeep of that workforce. Single mothers have been singled out for attack because they do rely on the state for help. Indeed many conservatives have been quite explicit in saying this. Peter Lilley the Social Security Secretary complained that these women were 'marrying the state', that is depending on the State for financial assistance, rather than depending on a husband.

Victorian values

This isn't the first time the Conservatives have manipulated and lied about academic work to justifying implementing it's political agenda. Indeed though the Tory party are on a moral crusade to bring back Victorian values, they are particular as to which values they wish to keep, a point which was well made by Gwendolene Stuart2 in a pamphlet on Thatcher "[they have] picked from that period selectively the sentiments and values of the most oppressive class...deriding the real values of that period, the values of ordinary men and women who struggled to work collectively together to advance their quality of life. "

There is nothing new or original about the present campaign. As Dr. John Harris comments "At the beginning of the 20th century there was already a firmly established belief that the family was in decline and decay as a result of the growth of industrial society". The introduction of women into the workforce, the growth of unions and organisations representing youth removed them from the family environment, giving them greater independence.

The move to the cities brought with it poverty, overcrowding and crime. The changing structure of the family was blamed for this rather than the effects of industrialisation. The response of social planners was to re define women's roles within society. Arguments about women being naturally suited to domesticity and about their need for protection in a morally corrupt world were introduced. Concern over declining birth-rate raised "motherhood" to a new level in social recognition. The first Mothers Day was celebrated in 1907 with this in mind. The so called sexual liberation that followed World War I was followed by a moral backlash.

On one hand legislation was introduced which removed many restrictions on women working, on the other ideology was created to prevent women from taking full advantage of the new opportunities available to them. Again and again the family values have been used by capitalism as a bulwark against progression and to deflect from the misery caused by it.

Leeds is one of the largest cities in England and the foremost industrial city of the West Yorkshire conurbation. Its population in 1981 stood at 696 714 and with Bradford forms a metropolitan area supporting more than 1 million people. Although a large proportion of its population are engaged in the tertiary sector Leeds is primarily an industrial city. Its rapid growth during the nineteenth century mirrors any town which was endowed with the raw materials of the Industrial Revolution: coal, iron ore and cheap labour. The particular strength of the West Yorkshire towns was the manufacture of cloth, an industry which began on a small scale high up in the Pennine valleys and then later moved down to the growing mills of Halifax, Bradford and Leeds where engineering and coal mining were fast becoming important.

There was a bitter meeting in 1833 called by such eminent Leeds doctors as Charles Thackrah and Robert Baker to campaign vigorously for a proper sewage system, which in 1850 was eventually channelled into the River Aire near Temple Newsam. In 1870, the Corporation were directed to forbid sewage to pass into the river until it had been properly purified. It was not until about the same time that the courses of the many open becks below Swinegate were paved in and covered to prevent their use as open drains and tipping places. Water supplies to the town were very incompetent

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