Technology is taking jobs away from men -- and reviving a pre-industrial version of masculinity

Mokyr, whose forthcoming book, A Culture of Growth, describes the industrial revolution’s intellectual origins, explains that factory work was traumatic for men because it required showing up at a particular time, staying a full day, and taking orders from another man. Men frequently had such a hard time giving up their autonomy and dealing with a boss that factories originally employed women and children because they were more docile.

Advertisement

A generation of men lost work and many never found another job. Traditional artisans couldn’t deal with factory work and there were fewer jobs because machines were more productive. It was a messy transition that played out over more than 100 years and sparked Marxism. Factory owners took proactive steps to make it work. They set up schools for children and made education available to the masses. But their intention was not to increase literacy. The schools existed largely to condition the next generation to work a full day and take orders.

Sons of displaced artisans eventually adapted to the new version of employment, and women were shoved out the labor force. The men took jobs inconceivable in their fathers’ era, on railroads or telegraphs. By the 20th century, working a union job at a factory was not only acceptable, it became a standard for how men took care of their families. Today, lifelong employment under a paternalistic employer is more rare. And because we still associate those things with a good job, Americans predict a bleak future for their children.

Join the conversation as a VIP Member

Trending on HotAir Videos

Sponsored

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement