Craft Capitalism

Craft Capitalism: Craftsworkers and Early Industrialization in Hamilton, Ontario

Robert B. Kristofferson
Copyright Date: 2007
Pages: 288
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.3138/9781442684225
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Craft Capitalism
    Book Description:

    Craft Capitalismfocuses on Hamilton, Ontario, and demonstrates how the preservation of traditional work arrangements, craft mobility networks, and other aspects of craft culture ensured that craftsworkers in that city enjoyed an essentially positive introduction to industrial capitalism.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-8422-5
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of Tables
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-2)
  5. Introduction: Artisans, Craftsworkers, and Social Relations of Craft-Based Industrialization
    (pp. 3-19)

    In studies written over the past two or three decades, dispossession has been the story of the artisan / craftsworker / skilled worker during industrialization. Articles and monographs, mainly by practitioners of the ‘new’ labour history, have woven Marxist theory into a heavy empirical cloak from myriad accounts of the despoliation of the means of production from craftsworkers throughout Western industrialization.¹ Related fields of research, such as a gender history concerned with mapping the masculine contours of male craftsworkers’ experience of nineteenth-century industrialization, have also by and large adopted the dispossession model as a base upon which to elaborate their...

  6. 1 The Structure of Hamilton’s Early Industrialization: Continuity and Change
    (pp. 20-58)

    This study examines the social experience of craftsworkers during early industrialization. But before those depths are plumbed, it is first necessary to gain some understanding of the changing economic and personal structures within which this experience was formulated. To that end, chapters 1 and 2 will assess the degree of continuity and change discernible in Hamilton’s first round of industrialization from about the mid-1830s to the early 1870s. By examining the changing context of industry and its personnel in Hamilton during the city’s transition from small commercial lakeport to the ‘Birmingham of Canada,’ these chapters will consider the degree to...

  7. 2 Personal Structures: Craftsworkers and Industrial Proprietors by 1871
    (pp. 59-75)

    Craftsworkers and craft modes of production remained a firmly embedded, even expanded, feature of Hamilton’s industrialization through the early 1870s. The proprietors of the city’s diverse workshops continued to rely on workers in crafts both old and new for profitable production. The previous chapter outlined theeconomic structuresof craft-based industrialization. This chapter will explore itspersonal structuresto provide further context for subsequent chapters to build a more complete picture of the local craft community.

    To set the stage for later discussions ofwholocal craftsworkers were and how that informed the social relations of their communities, this chapter...

  8. 3 Craft Mobility and Artisan-Led Industrialization: Continuity in Symbol and Practice
    (pp. 76-110)

    It is easy to dismiss these comments, penned by Richard Butler in 1909, as wishful thinking and construction after the fact. Writing under the nom de plume ‘the Old Muser,’ Butler repeatedly hammered home this theme in his weekly historical reminiscence column in theHamilton Spectatorthrough much of the first two decades of the twentieth century. But is there fact to be separated from fiction in these accounts? Butler himself rose from lowly printer’s apprentice to employer, diplomat, and author. Is there any evidence that his contemporaries – especially those who commenced their work lives as apprentice and journeymen...

  9. 4 A Culture in Continuity: Master–Man Mutualism in Hamilton, Ontario, during Early Industrialization
    (pp. 111-136)

    Cultural change is the dynamic resolution of the old and the new. Raymond Williams, of course, best interpreted this dualism in terms of a given culture’s ‘residual’ and ‘emergent’ elements.¹ What is interesting about the work culture of Hamilton craftsworkers is how the particular transmodal position of its participants allowed it to become emergent in a way as yet unexplored by historians. But before the dimensions of that ‘lively and vibrant’ aspect of the culture can be examined, it is first necessary to gain a greater understanding of the pre-existing culture from which it emerged.

    As the last chapter showed,...

  10. 5 The ‘Self-Made Craftsworker’: Transmodalism, Self-Identification, and the Foundations of Emergent Culture
    (pp. 137-159)

    The previous chapter outlined residual aspects of craftsworker culture. The task of the remaining chapters will be to examine the dimensions of this culture’semergentaspects. The transmodal nature of craft capitalist development informed Hamilton craftsworkers’ understanding of their world. Dispossession and disruption was a marginal social experience at most. Great cultural continuities still thrived, and this was especially true of the functioning of craft mobility, a centrepiece of the craft world. If anything, what had been valued in the past now appeared even more possible. But the key feature of Hamilton craftsworkers’ experience – a feature that allowed their...

  11. 6 The ‘Self-Improving Craftsworker’: Dimensions of Transmodal Culture in Ideology and Practice
    (pp. 160-200)

    Outlined in the previous chapter were the qualities to which the Hamilton craftsworker aspired to secure a position of ‘self-made’ masculine respectability in the modern industrial world – independence, perseverance, industry, energy, honesty, hard toil, sobriety, and others. This chapter will show that the orbit within which these qualities – as well as other key ingredients of the masculine craftsworker – could be practised, was expanded considerably in this period. Central to craftsworkers’ ideological development during early industrialization was the growing belief that, in this modern age, manual skills and physical capacity needed augmentation with the power of knowledge in...

  12. 7 Transmodal Culture in Apogee: 1872 Revisited
    (pp. 201-240)

    The development of industrial capitalism in mid-nineteenth-century Hamilton did not result in an entirely Pollyannaish social experience for craftsworkers. Conflict born from the contradictions of this economic system must have been familiar to many craftsworkers. Some had undoubtedly fled the hard edge of capitalism in places where it was more advanced – such as the large industrial centres of Britain and the northeastern United States – and brought that experience with them. Some craftsworkers must also have experienced failure in self-employment, prolonged wage-earning, and other such frustrations of capitalism. Perhaps symptomatic of all this was the fact that unions and...

  13. Conclusion
    (pp. 241-246)

    Craft capitalism best describes the variant of industrialization and the social relations it engendered between and among artisans and craftsworkers in Hamilton up through the early 1870s. The city’s impressive industrial base had largely been built by this time from craft-based enterprise following a flexible specialized path of growth within a climate of limited regional markets and variable demand. More than this, however, the term most fittingly describes craftsworkers’ social experience of this situation. This structural arrangement opened up to them a more or less hopeful experience of industrial capitalism.

    This optimism was rooted in the fundamental preservation of traditional...

  14. Notes
    (pp. 247-314)
  15. Index
    (pp. 315-326)
  16. Back Matter
    (pp. 327-328)