Week 5 Questions/Comments

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24 responses to “Week 5 Questions/Comments

  1. The reading for this week by Smith and Clancey was quite interesting with talking about the major problems that were faced during the early American technology. In the beginning it was interesting how they would give certain jobs to only women and others only men assuming that women could only work with watches since they had smaller fingers. However, men would earn about twice as much as women did because their jobs were considered to be more difficult and ingenious. They had also made the comment that it was custom to pay women less than men for the same labor. This statement made me stop and what where the author is going with this and what exactly he means by “custom” because the reasoning behind it doesn’t seem like it should result in women making less than the men.
    As I was reading through more of the problems the statement on page 272, “Why should I work hard when that lazy fellow gets the same pay that I do and does only half as much work?”
    I would raise the question with the same quote but relating it to women as well. Obviously there was no standardization and many people felt like they were being taken advantage of. Maybe it had to do with class and what you were expected to do. This was expected from the women that a woman from the middle class was expected to do more than a woman from a low class. It would be interesting to compare different primary sources such as diaries from the different classes during this time period to get a better look at the workforce, pay, and what was expected of both men and women during this time.

  2. The readings from this week show me how deep the roots of efficiency, inequality in the work place, exceptionalism, and the need to put our beliefs onto other cultures run. Still today we are constantly being told how to do our jobs better, take care of our families better, and have to hear excuses as to why women aren’t paid as much as men as well as why taking a wage cut or getting rid of the unions will help to keep jobs in the United States. Americans and Europeans still hold onto a sense of superiority and exceptionalism even when other countries and cultures prove that they are just as advanced as Americans and Europeans are (like Japan in the early 20th century) and yet Americans and Europeans are still constantly trying to get other countries who have “less advanced people” to conform to their ways of thinking under the guise of “destiny and duty” (pg 227). Sociologists have pointed out these same societal issues for years and years but with roots this deep I don’t see things changing anytime soon.

  3. One main objection to employing women was they were, “ very apt to marry just as they become skillful enough to be reliable.” On the other hand, many did not have issues hiring women for watch making because of their, “natural dexterity” that men did possess so it was easier to have women do certain jobs then spend time training the men. However, women were still paid less because, “they do more difficult work.” I thought this excerpt was particularly interesting because it showed the opinions that many had about not only women working but also women working in factories.

    The interesting thing in the second section was the idea that, “Machines and equations, or their absence, were themselves indicators of the level or development a given society had attained.” It also addresses the idea that change is necessary for survival. It is interesting to look at the progression of our country through tools and developments. There needs to be improvements to support growing populations regardless of the country’s geographical location. Europeans specifically thought it was their mission to master nature, and out of this came the willingness to develop in order to achieve their goals. How far were people willing to go to achieve these goals?

    An interesting question of who was in charge, the workers or employers is raised in this third section. I also found it interesting starting on page 271, where the section breaks down different working personalities of men yet there is no reference to women. However, the idea is centralized around workers not performing to their full potential on purpose either for personal or safety reasons.

    The New Housekeeping section raises a very interesting question, why do people hold others of wealth or higher class at a different level? Why is not the same expected of everyone regardless of their social status? It was also interesting that women needed to be managed task wise so that they were able to perform their duties in a timely manner.

  4. The largest section of the reading from Smith and Clancey this week centered on the Taylor system of increasing efficiency in manufacturing. Following the usual pattern as other reading, a series of essays provided different viewpoints and situations where the Taylor system was implemented. I found the variety of sources to be very interesting. The essay on the housekeeping was especially interesting. It characterized the Taylor system as an end to “the drudgery of household tasks.” The essay adhered very closely to the benefits Taylor himself claimed his system would provide, more efficient work done in less time, where workers are happier with their work and lives. However through essays later such as “A Trade Unionist Attacks Taylorism, 1911” clearly Taylor’s system did not operate in such a way that everyone benefited. In fact the workers were extremely unhappy about being forced to work at very increased speeds, and worried about physical injury. There were clearly differing opinion on how effective Taylors system was and what the ultimate costs would be.

  5. Alli Leibowitz

    I found the readings this week to be especially interesting. I had never thought of the role literature and other media played in past histories of technological progression. I enjoyed reading “Machines as the Measure of Men” by Michael Adas. It described how literature created certain labels to emphasize the success in science and technology Europe and contrast it with areas of the world that were not innovative in technology. The essay made me realize the stereotype that accompanies the development of technology of white men was developed and spread.

  6. I very much enjoyed the reading about contrasting watch making in Europe and America, specifically because of the justifications it gives for paying women less than men in America.
    The article states how highly valued women watch workers are in Europe, because their hands are more dexterous and they require less training. The article then contrasts the European women with the American women. American women watch workers were valued far less than male American watch workers and their female European counterparts. The American women are given the least skilled jobs which require the least training, because they are more likely to leave their jobs after they get married. The article states that men are paid about double what women are paid, even though they are “not perhaps [worth] double,” just “because it is the custom to pay women less than men for the same labor.”

  7. It was surprising just how much industrialization contributed to and furthered the far-reaching effects of systematic, institutional oppression. In the second section, Western industrialization and subsequent weapons technology assisted in the suppression of outside nations in regards to trading, and even in imperialism and colonization. The mass means of communication and transportation also made it possible for imperialist nations to control their vast empires. “Mass-produced
    weapons, railway and telegraph lines, and iron-clad steamships made it possible for the Europeans to conquer …virtually all African and Asian peoples.”

    In addition, scientific and technological advancements became the barometer for how “evolved” a society was, or how “uncivilized.” Non western nations , with different types of technology and standards of living, were seen as inferior or stunted, while Western civilization was some shining beacon of scientific enlightenment.
    Sad, how technology that could be shared and used to the benefit of all could also be used to reinforce prejudice and declare superiority.

  8. I found it interesting to read contrasting views on the way the Taylor system impacted people lives and the seeing the negative and positive impacts. Whenever a new piece of technology emerges it is important to see the positive and negative aspects that come along with it. The new technology has a big impact on peoples lives whether for good or bad. In the one section of the reading with the housekeeping I found many similarities with how society functions today. People are regarded differently based on their social status. Lastly, reading about the gender roles is always interesting because it shows the disparity that existed back then is just as prevalent now.

  9. I continue to get such a kick out of the undermining of women in the workforce at this time. I suppose it should no long surprise me, but it somehow still manages to. The fact that women are paid half as much as men specifically because they don’t “need” jobs as they will eventually be married is insulting in the least. Not only are they paid less, but it is assumed that they will marry whether they want to or not and that their own income doesn’t matter as much as their husband’s will. I remember learning something similar about women in the early-mid 1900s, and of course, we aren’t too far from this today with women being expected to marry into a good family and stop working to start a family. Of course, women’s rights have come very far, but in some ways, the original gender roles still stand.

    I was also noticing the growing influence of the “self-made” individual. This almost sounds like the start of the American Dream that we know today. You work hard, get a good job, invent something cool, and all of a sudden, you’re a wealthy man with financial security. I see a lot of ideologies and cultural values that I’m very familiar with today in the sources from the 19th century! Though in many ways this makes sense, it continues to surprise me.

  10. I felt like the comparison of the watch making company really hit on a lot of things about American Manufacturing that we have discussed in class. It is stated that women prefer to marry than stay and work their way up in the watch business which suggests that they are seen as expendable as well as that women see their work as temporary. This is similar to the topic of the Lowell factories. Women are also preferred to work with watching because their fingers are smaller. Numerous times the size of the hands were referred to which made me believe that small girls were also working in the factory because their hands would have been even smaller. A contrast between the companies was that in England the watches are all made by hand because they have an abundant amount of labor that they can use, but America is the only one that is made with a machine in a single establishment. The term that describes this is vertical integration which we have also mentioned in previous classes.

    It is so interesting how other country’s compare itself with each other based on the technology. Those that are more advance and seem to be trying to further still are seen as this amazing power and anyone still figuring themselves out (colonies) are dubbed as “backward”. It’ also interesting that technology is being seen as the “new” way that Europeans are judging others because I think that even tools can be seen as technology and those have always been a basis that people have judged each other based upon. Weather a person had the latest tools showed the other person how advanced they were and this is the same thing. Also it is how the English are specifically looking at colonized people and I am assuming they are talking about colonies that they control. But it would make sense that the colony they control isn’t doing as well as them, otherwise they would most likely not be colonized, and England is definitely not helping them to further their own technology. Simply using them as a place for resources and labor. Again we see railroads and they are seen as a superiority above others. I wonder though as railroads were put into colonies, was it the railroads name with the mother country that was seen as superior and why not the colony?

    I was sort of confused when It was talking about scientific management though. I couldn’t tell if it was trying to say that having a human is bad because it is unreliable to have them turn out the max amount of work that they can but machines do? Or did I just miss a bigger point completely?

  11. Every time I read about women in the workplace at this time, some part of me continues to be surprised at their poor treatment. I think the line that I really got a kick out of that women marry and leave work “just as they become skillful enough to be reliable.” They say how valuable women are because their hands are small enough to work on watches in one moment but are degrading them for being less ingenious and unreliable the next. Reading about the treatment women in the workplace is always interesting because you can see similar trends in the current workplace in regards to ideas of competency and sometimes even in regards to pay inequality.
    In the second section, the idea of ‘evolved’ and ‘civilized’ countries being the ones with the most technological advances hasn’t changed in all the years between that publication and today. The idea that the Western world is far superior due to the technology it has persists.
    With the section on scientific management, it seemed that machinery was being praised for its efficiency which was surprising since many people of the time were against machinery in the workplace because it could replace human workers.

  12. I thought this weeks readings were very thought-provoking in the regards to women. The readings mentioned how women were paid less than men and valued less than men, however the work that they were resposinble for doing was extremely important. That always interests me because if they were seen as unequal to men, wouldn’t their work be useless? Except it’s not, it’s very important to the family life and for everyday life. Another point was comparing England to America and it made me realize how many countries compete with America in the race for technology. Everyone always measures their countries up to America and makes it a race to create the best piece of technology and it’s funny how it’s always a race against us. One question I thought about while reading was, If a new piece of technology has a negative impact, than why does society and people continue to use it and depend on it?

    • Negative technology is used for its pragmatic purpose(s). Think about pesticides; as much as they pollute rivers, hundreds of thousands rely on the artificial productivity of farmers.
      We, as a class, interpreted images of train technology in the mid 19th century; the class agreed the train has had both positive and negative impact. The positives must have outweighed the negatives.

  13. Andrew Boswell

    In this week’s Smith and Clancey reading, I found The New Housekeeping section to rather interesting with the talk of different social classes having slightly better strengths. I also like how time management was considered a great skill and how it caused a form of “waste” if done inefficiently. I can agree with that since “time costs money” and if you mess up at your factory job in the early 20th century, you could cause the company to lose a lot of money. However, it seems like a citizen’s skill to manage time goes with one’s social status. I personally believe the efficiency engineers are a bit obsessed with doing everything, well, efficiently. Don’t you think the stress could cause the workers to mess up?

    • First, the idea of an efficiency engineer is really cool. Secondly, yes, I am sure stress caused the workers to mess up. Imagine a day where you work more than half the day. Working more than 12 hours a week would quickly make one feel as if they spend most of their life at work. Topped with the 8 recommended hours of sleep, a worker would find themselves with only 4 hours in the day to eat three meals, do the laundry and dishes, and have a social life… could you imagine living in a world of constant exam week? I would surely be stressed and mess up.

  14. I find it remarkable how the excerpt by Christine Frederick reflects how technological changes impacted gender standards for women. Frederick notes how female domesticity was defined as making the home a refuge for women’s husbands and children, recognizing that this meant a life of drudgery for middle-class women. Her piece captures how the efficiency movement redefined women’s lives during the early twentieth century. Now domesticity also consisted in a woman using new technology and managing her home like a factory to save time and money while theoretically making her life less tedious.

  15. Smith and Clancy
    Today’s reading the first section did not really surprise me how the Western Countries thought they were more civilized then the African and Asian countries. If you reading any history on major western power like England, France and Spain they used the fact that the peoples of Africa and Asia need to be civilized by the Western powers. The reading does mention that the Japanese’s were pretty industrialized compared to the other Asian countries, but the reading did not mention the Ottomans as being civilized ether. The second part of the article was actually new to me, in the fact as the two theory’s that production is ether slowed by management or by the workers. Then they talk about having to train competent workers to do the job but these workers think it is wrong to work fast. Since working in a business where there is almost always someone waiting to replace me at my job it gave a new look at this article. Then the small essays on different strikes or trade unions getting into management hair, it was a very fun and interesting read. Do you think that someone questioning that the problem was with management instead of the workers, means that the unions had more power then historians thought at this time?

    • I believe unions had a lot of power because unions were new and nobody knew how to deal with their organization or demands. As for the management vs. workers question… I dunno.
      One of three things could be the problem in the factory situation: the machines, the workers, or the employers. Generally the machines were agreed to be the top of the line with improvements every day; people generally had only one task to do, if they what are the chances of ten out of ten employees being incompetent? I believe after efficiency managers observed multiple people in the same situation, efficiency managers witnessed the incompetence of managers.
      The owner of the warehouse, the one hiring the efficiency managers, probably could not tell you the last time they entered a factory. It is likely ncompetent managers found jobs they couldnt manage and others quickly noticed.

  16. Athena Tavuchis

    It was interesting to read about gender roles and the importance of social class back then and the similarities that there are to our society today. People are still looked at differently because of their social class just as they were back then. The readings mention how women were paid less than men and were seen as less valuable workers than men. It was interesting to see that that was the case back then and is still a topic that is debated today, maybe not to the extremes that it was back then but it is statistically shown that women typically get paid less than men. It is important to see how events and instances have impacted the way that our society is today.

  17. Watch out Europe! The American system of manufacturing is consuming your time-old traditions of creating time-pieces! “All imported watches are made by hand [except] the American watches [are vertically integrated and mass produced.] The [American] Waltham watches have fewer parts and are [manageable]; and are warranted for ten years by the manufacturers.”
    One similarity between the American system and European system is “They have over one hundred artisans employed, more than half of whom are women.” Women are not new to the ranks of factory work. Men observed the dexterous fingers of women allow them to maneuver small parts more efficiently than men. Men also believed the female mind was less adapt at creating new devices, only working on designs men created.
    Technological development does not only stratify genders. Nations can be segregated by technological advances; or brought together. England was a proud user of steam tech and telegraph lines to keep communication to their furthest colonies. France failed in Vietnam partly because of their inability to imperialize before landing a colony.
    Technological imperalization also failed in places such as Vietnam because “The assumptions that it was desirable for humans to master nature and that the scientifically minded and inventive Europeans were best at doing so [seemingly implied] it was the destiny and duty of Europeans to expand into and develop regions occupied by less advanced people.” In Victorian literature, their use of the “Other” is similar to the inspiration incited by America’s Manifest Destiny.
    Eventually, Britain realized they were not the only players on the world’s stage and East Asia is equally capable.

    • [I keep forgetting to pose a question]
      -How has the American “ego” compared to the British “ego” of manufacturing? Did the technological race push both countries to improvement or societal failure?

  18. Comparing the different watchmaking industries was very interesting. In Britain we see watched being made by hand but in America the watches are made by machines. We also see that women are being hired in the factories/ watchmaking process.

    It was also interesting to see how industry spread all over the world. Adas mentions how technology superiority is a justification for imperial dominance. I totally agree with that. Countries that create and improve technology rapidly speed growth in the nation itself. Some countries have industrialized faster than others, but they are both striving for the same goal.

    The third article, was talking about who should run the workplace. I really thought this was interesting as well. It also talks about some of the environmental problems increasing our “national efficiency.” The author discusses the age old question as well, men can always be replaced be it another worker or machine.

  19. Today’s reading discussed how technology, specifically the railroad, furthered exceptionalism and the belief of western superiority. Europeans and Americans felt that it was their job to further technological advancement while taking cultural cues from other nations. Race, class, and gender also affected who was seen as “responsible” for providing society with technological advances.

  20. I could not believe how superior European countries thought they were against non-European countries. I read about that before but this article opened my eyes once again to the superior thinking of the Europeans. The Taylorism approach to modernization, although for some it seemed unnecessary, it would prove beneficial to the progress of American industrialization.