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Riotous AssembliesPopular Protest in Hanoverian England$
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Adrian Randall

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780199259908

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199259908.001.0001

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Before the Luddites: Machinery, Regulation, and the State

Before the Luddites: Machinery, Regulation, and the State

(p.240) 10 Before the Luddites: Machinery, Regulation, and the State
Riotous Assemblies

Adrian Randall (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter looks at the ways in which machinery began to transform economic relations in the textile industries in England during the 18th century, generating major problems of disorder and posing serious questions for the old regulatory model of governance. The responses to the early mechanization of textile production demonstrated the limitations of resisting labour-saving machinery. The vigorous pre-emptive actions employed by workers reflected an entirely sensible assessment that customary work practices might only be sustained by preventing the innovation in question becoming established. Workers resorted to propaganda, in which the interests of the innovators were presented as selfish and narrow while those of the workers were shown as being those of the wider community.

Keywords:   machinery, England, textile industry, mechanization, propaganda, labour law, industrial protests, political economy

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