Mill Family: The Labor System in the Southern Cotton Textile Industry, 1880-1915

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The growing cotton textile industry of the postbellum South required a stable and reliable work force made up of laborers with varied skills. At the same time, Southern agriculture was in a depressed state. Families, especially those with many children, were therefore forced to look for work in the textile mills. Mill managers, in their own interest, created the basis for a distinctive social and economic structure: the Southern cotton mill village. These villages, which included such accoutrements as good schools for the children, were paternalistic work environments designed to attract this desirable source of workers. This book examines the role of the family labor system in the early evolution of the postbellum Southern cotton textile industry, revealing how the mill village served as a focal point of economic and social cohesion as well as an institution for socializing and stabilizing its workers. The paternalism of the mill villages was not merely an instrument of capitalistic indoctrination, contends McHugh, but was shaped by market forces. McHugh employs a valuable body of archival material from the Alamance Mill, an important cotton textile mill in North Carolina, to illustrate her arguments.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Drawing on a wide range of theoretical and historical work, notably on human capital and family economy, McHugh's brief, tightly argued book shows how an apparent "new departure," the coming of industry to the South, utilized the values and institutions of traditional southern white culture to create a stable, disciplined work force."—Business History Review

"[This book] presents intriguing questions about industrialization and the creation of work discipline, and is interesting both as southern history and as labor history."—International Labor and Working Class History

" its extensive use of quantitative methods of analysis and in its close consideration of one particular case, that of the Alamance Mill in North Carolina."—Journal of Southern History

"A useful study and adds in important ways to a major area in the history of the American South."—American Historical Review

"Can remind us all of the rewards in reading nonsociologists' ventures into our substantive domains."—Contemporary Sociology

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195042993
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 4/28/1988
  • Pages: 160
  • Lexile: 1490L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.75 (w) x 8.56 (h) x 0.72 (d)

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