Prisons, Schools and Factories: Architectures of Control in the 19th C

My thesis for this lecture is the following:

Industrialization in the nineteenth century led to an increasingly disciplined society, and evidence of this discipline can be found in three buildings that were new to the landscape in that period: the factory, the prison and the school.

The prison exemplified a desire to discipline nineteenth century most perfectly in Jeremy Bentham’s conception of the Panopticon prison.

From a central position in the prison, a guard could watch over every single movement of every inmate. Further to that, all of the inmates could watch over each other, thus making them participants in this culture of discipline.

Finally, schools exemplified this change.

Workers housing often accompanied newly built factories. Such housing was typically unsanitary and crowded: a perfect environment to foment revolutionary thinking.

Many factories were built of brick.

Nineteenth Century schools epitomized late century trends that valued discipline and nationalistic thinking. Notice how, in this image of students in a french elementary school, there is a marked class division. Boys with collar are upper class children, boys without are from the lower classes.

Histories often remark upon the timing of mass schooling. In England, boys education became compulsory just ten years after the institution of male suffrage for lower class working men (1866). Why might the expansion of the franchise coincide with the rise of mass schooling?











Blog Assignment (Due Wed, Dec. 8, 2010)

Find a single quotation from the textbook that addresses either the social, economic, artistic, religious, and political history of one of the following buildings:

19th Century: The School, The Factory, The Prison.

Submit it below in a comment.

How it should look:

Title: The School, Political

“Quote from Big textbook” (McKay et al 555).



7 thoughts on “Prisons, Schools and Factories: Architectures of Control in the 19th C

  1. The School, Religious.

    Prussia led the way in the development of universal education, inspired by the Protestant idea that every believer should be able to read the Bible and the new idea of a population capable of effectively serving the state…. In Scotland the focus on Bible study led to the creation of parish schools for all children, and in England “charity schools” were established for the poor. In Catholic France, some Christian schools were established to teach the catechism and prayers as well as reading and writing, and the Catholic Habsburg state went even further, promoting elementary education enthusiastically in the eighteenth century. (McKay et al 518).

  2. Factory, Political

    “Some enlightened employers and social reformers in Parliament worked to change this practice, arguing that more humane standards were necessary. For example, Robert Owen (1771-1858), a very successful manufacturer in Scotland, testified in 1816 before an investigating committee on the basis of his experience. He stated that ‘very strong facts’ demonstrated that employing children under ten years of age as factory workers was ‘injurious to the children, and not beneficial to the proprietors.’ Workers also provided graphic testimony at such hearings as the reformers pressed Parliament to pass corrective laws. They scored some important successes.” (McKay et al 581)

    • Another option for exploring this topic is to look at the Primary Sources. They aren’t indexed, but, as in the case above, when a figure such as Robert Owen is mentioned, it would be useful for another student (or two!) to look again at that source to see if we could quote him directly on the topic of schooling, factories, or prisons. (Hint: I think Owen talks about all three!)

  3. “In all countries, the construction of railroads required a large number of laborers. Many landless farm laborers and poor peasants, long accustomed to leaving their villages for temporary employment, went to builds railroads. By the time the work was finished, urban life seemed more appealing. By the time they sent for their wives and sweethearts to join them, they had become urban workers.” (571)

    • I guess the argument that Manickam might make with this quote would be that the construction of railroads both made peasants into industrialized labourers but also made it more likely that, upon the completion of the railroad, they would head into the city to find similar industrial work. Such work would be found in the factory.

  4. “The economic consequences of the railroad were tremendous. As the barrier of high transportation costs was lowered, markets became larger and even nationwide. Larger markets encouraged larger factories with more sophisticated machinery in a growing number of industries. Such factories could make goods more cheaply and gradually subjected most cottage workers and many urban artisans to sever competitive pressures.” (571)

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