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The Crisis of the Craftsman: Hamilton's Metal Workers in the Early Twentieth Century

Craig Heron
Labour / Le Travail
Vol. 6 (Autumn, 1980), pp. 7-48
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/25139979
Page Count: 42
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
The Crisis of the Craftsman: Hamilton's Metal Workers in the Early Twentieth Century
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Abstract

This article describes the state of the two largest metal-working crafts in Hamilton at the end of the nineteenth century - the moulders and the machinists; the efforts of their employers to challenge the craftsmen's shop-floor power in order to transform their factories into more efficient, centrally managed workplaces; and the response of the craft workers to this crisis. The analysis of this response emphasizes the ambivalence of the artisanal legacy for the working class: on the one hand, an impassioned critique of the more dehumanizing tendencies of modernizing industry; on the other, an exclusivist strategy which aimed at defending only their craft interests. This experience suggests that the sweeping changes in the work process that accompanied the rise of monopoly capitalism in Canada prompted a highly fragmented response from the working class. /// L'article s'intéresse aux deux plus important métiers de la métallurgie à Hamilton au XIXe siècle: les mouleurs et les machinistes. L'auteur décrit les efforts des employeurs pour récuser le pouvoir des ouvriers de métier afin d'accroître l'efficacité de leurs usines en centralisant la direction des travaux, et la réaction des travailleurs de métier à ces changements. L'analyse de leurs réactions fait ressortir l'ambivalence de la classe ouvrière devant l'héritage artisanal: tantôt les travailleurs s'en prennent vivement aux aspects déshumanisants du travail en usine, tantôt ils adoptent une stratégie corporatiste dans le but défendre leurs seuls intérêts de métier. L'auteur conclue que les transformations dans l'organisation du travail qui a marqué l'avènement du capitalisme monopoliste au Canada a inspiré de la part de la classe ouvrière des réactions très diverses.

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