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Women and the Factory Acts

The views of Beatrice Potter Webb on society were in large measure an extension of social views espoused by Jane Austen and economic views of social structure derived from MarxÆs views on capitalism. Webb and her husband Sidney Webb were members of the Fabian Society, an organization of intellectuals who felt that the goal of society should strive for the highest moral possibilities. Webb worked tirelessly within and outside of prevailing political parties in an effort to help push her ideas into policies. Like MarxÆs views on capitalism that viewed laborers as entrapped workers and wage-slaves, Webb felt workers were basically manipulated by the wealthy class that owned the means of production. Her efforts were aimed at socialism as economic policy in an effort to correct the unjust and inefficient structures wrought via capitalism. Webb felt that factory legislation would ôpositively increase individual liberty and economic independence of workersö (208).

Webb felt that factory legislation was also mandated to correct injustices in capitalist methods of production that were more harmful to women than men. As Webb maintains, ôWomen are far more hapless in the labor market, and much less able to enforce their own common rule by Trade Unionism. The only chance of getting Trade Union among women workers lies through the Factory Actsö (208).

Karl MarxÆs views on capitalism and social classes had an enormous influence on individuals like Webb and others. In Capital (1867), Marx discusses provisions of the Factory Acts not related to hours of work in Volume I, Part IV, Chapter 15, Section 9. In this section Marx explains some of the atrocities that are perpetuated in factories that use humans as one more cog in the machinery. He discusses how serious accidents occur where ôa quarter of the body is torn from the trunkö and other dangers of the industrial economy


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Women and the Factory Acts. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 16:36, December 07, 2021, from