Technology Impact Essay, Research Paper
The use and rapid growth of technology has often be seen to many of the working class as a bad omen, like a cancer it spreads and gradually, one surcum to the inevitable. One occasion which arose and was met with resilience occured in England in 1811 when the revolutionary crop machine became the center of attention. A group of disgruntled workers from various textiles industries, called the “Luddites” formed a secret community of machine breakers. They used their primitive weapons to try and destroy the textile mills and machines that were believed to be the root of their problem.
The “Luddite’s” believed their skill and pride in their work made them a unique commodity and was one of the differences between them and the machines. Their skills have been passed from generation, to generation; in essence it is a direct trait of their identity. The craftsmen felt the machines were not as skilled as they were, therefore if they were to operate these machines they would probably lose their valuable skill and identity to become slaves to the machine. Work they once did in the house would now have to be done in textiles, which the “luddites” opposed because it housed poor working conditions. Work breaks that were left up to their discretion was to be timed, and the amount of work was based on a machine that could last longer than workers. Hence, it is easy to get the impression why the “luddiets” wanted to destroy the machines.
In his book “Society and Technological Change” Rudi Volti expressed the belief that the “luddites” feared loosing their jobs to the dreadful revolutionary crop machine is not necessarily the main or only reason behind the attacks.
That is not to say that fear of the new machines did not exist or contribute to the “Luddite” attacks, only that there were many other contributing factors. For example the “Luddite” attacks began in the hosiery trades, because of the long held opposition to the use of wide stocking frames that allowed employment of cheaper unskilled workers. Volti surmised this could have been handle peacefully had it not been for the dire economic conditions that existed at the time. Mainly due to the Napoleonic Wars which resulted in a general trade depression. A series of bad harvest caused a supply and demand, the amount of good harvest was scarce but the demand was high therefore raising the price for food dramatically. Due to theses conditions the “Luddites” sadly realized their wages were not enough to met their families basic needs. These events were followed by the shearers and handloom weavers in the weaving industry, who feared the advancement of the steam powered weaving machinery. In the cropping trade the attacks were done to express the prevention of technological advances. The attack was simply based on the fear of unemployment based on technological changes.
Although the film expressed the reason for the “Luddite” attacks were solely based on the so-called “techno-fear” is simply not true. The fear of low wages and unemployment due to the revolutionary technology did exist, however that is by far the only factor. Fear of possible unemployment and low wages were only contributing factors to the “Luddite” revolution, the economic conditions of the time were the main reasons for these attacks and fears. Volti stated that if the economic conditions were not so bad these attacks could have been avoided trough collective bargaining.