Social Inequalities In The 19Th Century Essay

, Research Paper

Different social classes can be distinguished by inequalities in such areas as power, authority, and wealth, working and living conditions, life-styles, life span, education, religion, and culture. The 19th century was primarily divided into four distinct social groups (or classes): ?upper class?, ?middle class?, ?working class?, and ?under class?. Beneath the working class of industrial workers, submerged the ?under class?. They were often referred to as the ?sunken people?– those of which lived in poverty. Each class included a wide range of occupations of varying status and income; there was a large gap between the classes.

Early in the 19th century the labels ?working classes? and ?middle classes? were already coming into frequent usage. The old inherited aristocracy, reinforced by the new gentry who owned their success to business, industry, and the professions, evolved into an ?upper class? which grimly maintained control over the political system, depriving not only the working classes, but also the middle classes of a voice in (the) political developments. However, the increasingly powerful middle classes undertook organized demonstrations to remedy this situation while the working class became hostile to not only the upper class, but the middle class as well.

The working class was not exactly the lowest class but endured a lot of hardships. They endured unemployment, long hours with little pay; factories full of filth, animals and pests, harsh climate/temperatures, germs and illnesses; and had almost no say in anything that had to do with their government. The upper class capitalists could have easily fixed many of these things.

The citizens apart of the working class had to endure 10+ hour working days. Some children were even forced to start working as young as the age of three. Children and adults of all ages worked in the factories and had very little pay for the work they had done. Between 12s and 15s was a normal wage for the laborers. One capable of a normal human life span could not be afforded on any income fewer than 30s a week. They could barely afford housing and food. Some large families of about eight people slept in one room, sometimes going to bed without food.

Sanitation was also a big problem in factories. There was no personal hygiene and disease was the number one killer. Seven out of eight people would die of disease and the other one would die of natural causes. As new factories began springing up all over London, working conditions slowly deteriorated until women and children were working twelve-hour days every day. Poor, incoherent laws inhibited the poor because their employer could treat them however they wanted and make them work for pennies. In the factories, whole families worked in joint efforts to make it out of poverty, but still with no avail. A constant risk of accidents, a result from uncovered machines, incapacitated people and caused them to be very prone to disease and sometimes put them out of work. When someone lost a body part, it was a sure sign that they would never be anything more than poor because with a 50 % chance of dying in surgery, people were usually stuck being a cripple for the rest of their lives. Workers usually worked until midnight, and then went home for an hour-long diner, usually running the whole way because they sometimes lived hours away. They came back in an hour and worked until eight or nine, they then stumbled home in a trance like state only to come back to the dreaded factory in four hours. If the conditions the laborers worked under weren?t enough, they had to deal with their employers treating them badly. They sometimes beat their workers or would change the time on the clocks so that everyone had to work longer.

One of the main problems in the lower class was unemployment. Most of the lower class consisted of people who had no hope of ever doing more than picking up a few weeks of money here and there. Town life in the lower class was not healthy without sanitation and the water supplies were in worse conditions than the sanitation. People in the lower class had to use the good water for drinking and tea; the river water was used for the cooking. Some people did not have enough water, so they had to use their shirts to wipe off dirt while they would only wash their face and neck. People at that time believed that people in the lower class were the kindest people that lived, but also the poorest.

Acting as the British government, three laws that would be passed would be laws relating to working conditions, employment or lack of, and labor conditions (age, hours, wages, etc.). The first law would regard to the working conditions in the factories (and workhouses). People 16 years of age or older can only work 9 hours per day and have a half hour lunch break will be included in the 9 hours. Their minimum wage will be 40s. Children from the ages 8-15 can work to the maximum of 5-hour days; with their minimum wage being 26s. The second law passed would be one that involves employment. Government will help support factories that employ 150 or more workers. The third law passed would be one that pertains to the conditions in the factories. This law will tie into the law pertaining to the employment. The more employees the factories, have the government will help with the conditions of the factories (heaters, new windows, pest control, etc.).


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