SOC208 2019 Tut 2 Mon 1130 – Industrial cities and families – the seeds of suburbia?

For many of us who grew up in suburban families, we take their existence for granted as a normal, ahistorical way of life. Few of us might be aware of the history of the suburb and the family, and the Industrial and agricultural/ feudal ways of life that preceded it.

Pre-industrial society was comprised of families in a variety of extended and nuclear forms. People lived and worked amongst extended kinship groups in communal villages and towns, and both men and women had a role in the localised, small-scale, production that characterized this time.

These forms changed in the Industrial Revolution. Middle class families became more nuclear-oriented in form, with a clearer gender divide of labour into male wage-workers and female child carers. Meanwhile, working class men, women and children worked long hours in urban factories and lived in over-crowded urban cottages and apartments. This created the terrible mix of poverty, disease, and pollution that was captured so vividly in the writing of Frederick Engels on the Great Towns of England.

In Australia, the 19th century middle classes arriving from England and the working-classes families renting the cramped terraces that dominated the cities of Sydney and Melbourne dreamed of a better life. Many Australian workers went on to organise collectively, form associations, communities and political parties, and strikes for better working conditions began in earnest in the 1890s. However, it would be their children for the most part who were to find that better life in the rollout of 20th century suburbia.

S208UOW19 #Tut2 #Mon1130

Posted in SOC208 - Cities, Communities and Families, UOW.

15 Comments on SOC208 2019 Tut 2 Mon 1130 – Industrial cities and families – the seeds of suburbia?

Nadia Ciccolella said : Guest Report a month ago

It is evident that the structure and context of family life has changed and evolved immensely due to the industrial revolution in more ways than one and women are a prime example of this. In early America when the whole notion of “inferior” and “superior” ideologies were apparent and inequality was at its prime it created restrictions for females. However female vulnerability and patriarchal prerogatives led to new protections for mothers and wives. This also created a sense of ‘sisterhood’ and encouraged women to organise the women’s rights movement. This movement and the Women’s liberation movement had a major impact on women and it challenged traditional attitudes towards women and their relationship with their family (Cootz 2000, p. 291). In addition to this it is apparent that life on the job in factories were unhealthy to say the least. They were hot, had terrible air quality and employees worked under harsh condition.

Yasmin Latif said : Guest Report a month ago

The Industrial Revolution changed the world and shaped most of society into what it is today. Frederick Engels reading “The Condition of the Working Class in England” really highlights the hardship many went through during this period of time. Through Engels studies of the Industrial Revolution throughout England he found that the overall mass migration to large cities had reduced the quality of life for the majority of workers and that the whole concept of industrialisation was generally worse for a lot of the working class people in regards to their health and longevity. The death rates for the workers living in the city were much higher than those living in the countryside. Diseases such as measles, scarlet fever whooping cough and smallpox were often the cause of death. Many people were saddened by their living conditions but were unable to change these circumstances due to the lack of power that they had against the wealthier population.

Meaad Alqahtani said : Guest Report a month ago

I really like the movemont in the socity before the industry to industrial cities. Stephanie Coontz explained the relationships between families and cities and how families are diffrent from each other. Also, how husterical findings affect the form of each family. It is an amazing how the role of the women changed, child labur and public health in the industrial revolution.

Charles Lenarduzzi said : Guest Report a month ago

I found the reading from Coontz especially interesting. As mentioned, many of the family rituals celebrated in suburban homes we think of as traditional only developed more recently then we thought. Many of these family rituals only became a staple in the modern home since shortly after the industrial revolution. This is an interesting topic to examine when comparing the changes that have happened in society since now and the predating of the industrial revolution. It's also interesting to note the time fathers spent with their children between pre industrial revolution and current date. Only since 1970 fathers began spending less time with their children to work to provide for their family, what is notable, is this trend of father child time together has carried through from 1970 to current day. from this it is fair to note that the industrial revolution reshaped the nuclear family structure.

Rhiannon Mackie said : Guest Report a month ago

The lecture for week 2 on pre-industrial times was very informative and interesting in my opinion. In particular slide six was fascinating that people assume women in that period didn't do any work, however they worked in cottage industries doing textiles and i was pleasantly surprised to read that women provided a fair amount of the source of food for their families. Its incredible how far our society has come from pre-industrial times to now, the production they had then and the production we have now are so different. Australia is definitely ahead in the sense of having privileges compared to those in poverty and low class around the world. Family structures have changed vastly as well, now we are super diverse with same sex parents, divorced parents and single parents compared to the nuclear family of pre-industrial times.

Hallie said : Guest Report a month ago

With the movement of time, there has been movement within the family unit. The idea of the nuclear family has changed dramatically with changes in the societal norm and the nuclear family is currently not as common within Australian families during these times. Changes in family are not solely impacted by time itself but also the social movements of the time period, this is also explored in Frederick Engels, The condition of the working class of England. The dynamic of family has changed as in todays society the mother, father and young children are not working long hours in factories as most commonly the mother and father work 9am-5pm (ish) jobs whilst the children attend school for the benefit of furthering education. This example of current family life is also seen as the family routine for middle to upper middle class families and families with other classes may have a different norms as the parents jobs and working hours may be different.This was also the case in pre-industrial times as families of differing classes had different family structures, for example, a family within the upper class in pre-industrial times may have the mother being unemployed and staying home with her children. The location of housing has also changed and in todays society a suburban location and household is the new age form of living as this was not the case for pre-industrial times. Although, familial norms have changed with the impact of social movements there are similarities between pre-industrial times and the modern society today as there are different family and housing structures for people within different classes.

Madeleine Wiersma said : Guest Report a month ago

It’s amazing to consider how far society has come from the pre-industrial society where work was done in small-scale production and locally, to now, where workers can travel long distances in order to get to work, either living in suburbia and travelling to the city, or even fly-in fly-out work. The Industrial Revolution played a significant role in the expansion of production, as well as then shifting family structure and roles. In the readings, Engels highlights the appalling conditions in which people lived and worked whilst Coontz discusses how life has changed for families from the pre-industrial era to the modern day.

Samantha Jones said : Guest Report a month ago

After reading Fredrick Engels Great Towns Of England (Engels, F 2000), it is clear the horrendous living conditions the people of the Industrial Revolution Era (especially the working class) were subjected to. The most devastating aspect to this is knowing that many people fell subject to living in the overly crowded, heavily polluted and dangerous living conditions due to the poor work options and the slave labour often found in factory jobs. In modern day Australia suburban lifestyle is an extremely popular living arrangement with many people happy to travel to the city for work. However we still take for granted how good the housing conditions are in suburbs and even cities in modern day Australia, compared to Industrial England. With the housing prices increasing we focus heavily on the stress of not being able to afford a nice comfortable home instead of being thankful for the decent living conditions. Another thing that stuck out to me when reading the Great Towns Of England (Engels, F 2000) is how poor living conditions and dangerous working conditions aren't yet extinct in the world. It is easy to think only of Western countries when we evaluate the differences between the past and the present. We forget that there are workers and communities still subjected to slave labour and unsafe/unsanitary living arrangements in non-Western countries that our Western countries and companies exploit for our own benefits. A question I pose is do we have a better family dynamic in suburban life over city life? Does living in a not as crowded environment that is cheaper but includes more travel affect the loving bond family members have with one another in contrast to the city living life style?

Madison Ashton said : Guest Report a month ago

Considering the structure of cities and families in pre-industrial society and how the industrial revolution changed it has so much we need to acknowledge. There will always be differences over time and around the world in terms of family types. Cooper noted there are differences amongst the common family types in different countries during the pre -industrial times with Northwest Europe that started more nuclear households while in south east it was common to live with more relatives. The industrial revolution led to a decline of extended families with people moving away leaving the elders behind and also with men now being the primary breadwinner and women becoming child-bearer. This however, wasn’t the case across all classes as children and women were still working in factories in the lower classes so it shows that changes in families varied. As Engles' work noted the condition in England with poor sanitation and living conditions while men, women and children all worked long hours in factories with emphasis on families often living in one room. Coming from where I have grown up, it would be unbearable to see this sort of living continuing today, however we cannot ignore that it may still be present in some parts of the world. In the UK it is evident to see how life went from living in extended families by their workplaces in the industrial time to now people aiming for the suburban lifestyle. The quality of life today for some has improved but as Coontz notes in the reading, that actually some aspects of family and work life have not. For example, families now spend less time with their children and also in the pre-industrial period leisure was included into everyday life whereas today, with the work and family choices people make, there is often little time for leisure. To look at the history of family life we can understand how different it was compared to the suburban life many live today and can consider how it may shape the future. It seems as though we are going back to the times of the industrial revolution where both parents work as more than one income is needed to pay finances and also the rise in children working from their teenage years (Coontz 2000).

Brendon Fishwick @brendonfish said : Guest Report a month ago

As stated in the Cooper (1999) reading, to understand the family, and the importance which surrounds it, it is imperative that there is an understanding of its history. As history demonstrates to us, like other groups, the family is subject to change over time, but also seems to have retained characteristics from the past in its present form (Cooper, 1999). When considering the changes from the pre-industrial society, and the industrial families, one of the most notables changes that occurred within the family was the working dynamics of the family. Goran Therborn, when describing one of the three elements that shape families in the pre-industrial times, noted there was still a high degree of male dominance in pre-industrial society. This however was not always the case when considering the working dynamics in the industrial revolution. Woman entered the workforce, working in places such as textile mills. Unsurprisingly, they were not valued in the same way in which the men were, and this was a reflected in the difference of pay and working conditions. Joyce Burnette, in her book, ‘Gender, Work and Wages in Industrial Revolution Britain’ states that the differences in occupation, and the differences in wages were in fact largely driven by market forces, and perhaps not custom, as one may have originally thought. The work was the not the same, but there is no doubting that woman entering the workface becoming more common was a drastic change in this era.

Joy derksen said : Guest Report a month ago

Although it is clearly true that many of us who have grown up in a modern Australia, dominated by a suburban culture, may find it challenging to regularly picture what the city and family may have embodied in the past, this should not imply that modern society does not have the potential to reflect and understand the relative privledge it now holds. As was discussed by Frederick Engels, during the industrial revolution living conditions were atrocious and it is fair to say that they are barely even comparable to those of modern day. Although there may still be countries throughout the world who experience this level of poverty, disease and pollution, the developed countries in question such as Australia experience nothing remotely similar to the conditions during the industrial revolution. In saying this, it is clear that modern Australians would find it near impossible to ignore the privledge that has been gained slowly throughout the development of the world, and they would struggle to take for granted the physical conditions they live in. In contrast to this, modern society may be seen as lacking in some of the advantages of past society. For example, the strong nature of community and kinship that was experienced within communal villages and towns is something that is often lost now. These connections can be vital for both personal and community wellbeing and are now often lost as communities are typically not nearly as close. Thus it is clear that reflecting on past societies makes it possible to gain a deeper understanding of both the privledges and misfortunes of modern cities and families.

Holly Kemp said : Guest Report a month ago

It’s crazy to think how heavily living conditions have changed over the years especially since the Industrial Revolution. All aspects of life such as work, housing conditions and living conditions have all drastically changed shaping the world we live in today. Fredrick Engles’ The Great Towns of England highlights the living conditions of those families living in the Industrial Revolution illustrating the strenuous work hours conducted by the population (male, female and children). A further interesting read that gives more insight to the women workers in the Industrial Revolution is a book written by Ivy Pinchbeck called “Women Workers and the Industrial Revolution”. During the time poor housing conditions were also apparent. Overcrowding was often an issue at this time having more people in a cottage than it could accommodate. As a consequence of these poor living conditions it was inevitable that issues such as pollution, disease and poverty became a tremendous problem. Today we (well at least I) couldn’t even begin to imagine what it would be like to live in a time such as the Industrial Revolution due to so many aspects of life having been advanced to what it is today.

Bronte Petrolo @brontemai said : Guest Report a month ago

Stephanie Coontz (2000, p84) highlights the relationship between families, communities and cities through explaining that families are influenced by not only their needs, but also by historical factors and individual life stories. One of the most notable changes in families over the centuries regards housing conditions, predominantly influenced by economic conditions. Frederick Engels (2000, p97-88) describes these appalling living conditions in England during the 19th century, which included extended families living and sleeping in the one room together in which they slept on old rags. An interesting note from this week were the similarities within families over the past centuries. Many traditions of today's society were formed during the 19th century including the idea of the sit-down meal (Cootnz, 2000, p85). Compared to preindustrial societies and colonial America, the 19th century saw children's reduction of sexual knowledge and the eradication of children's exposure to their parent's sexual activity which is still relevant today (Cootnz, 2000, p89). Although families evolve due to external forces, hence the differences between preindustrial and suburban families, there are still similarities.

Lexe Evans @lexe_evans said : Guest Report a month ago

Are we aware of the changes within Family Structures? Throughout history and within society family structure is something that is continually changing and adjusting. Family structures highlight the changes and adaptions that are present throughout various times in society. Cooper (1999) described that the family is similar to other social groups and is subject to change over time and conserves various characteristics from the past forms into the present one’s. Pre-industrial society was comprised of families in a variety of forms, including both extended and nuclear forms. The importance of these notions of change, is helpful in analysing why these family structures have changed, as well as understanding the similarities and differences between past and present family dynamics. There are three familial types, these included the patriarchal which describes the tradition, continuous family of both married and extended. Patriarchal is recognised as a pyramid, where the parents are at the point and it declines outwards to children and great-grandchildren. Stem, is another level of familial structure which is considered to be the most common form, where just one married child and children live with parents and inherit the families’ resources, which is described as a rectangle. Finally, the third familial type is nuclear which is stated as unstable, due to being just married couple and immediate children, this idea of unstable is further explained as when one partner dies, it dissolves. These categorise the different family structures, into three specific sections, although family structures are subject to change, a particular families’ dynamics can change into the different sections. Between the Pre-industrial society and industrial family structures have changed, where there was a decline in extended kinship, meaning that older parents infrequently lived long enough to require extensive care and children were considered as a ‘form of insurance’, where children’s earning frequently helped their parents buy a house. Within the industrial period, it was noted that there was some movement towards nuclear family, however was different between various diversities and classes. This highlights that although there was some improvement, there were still problems within family structures, especially within working class families. Women continued to work in factories, as did children who worked in mines, mills and factories, meaning that poverty was a way of ‘disciplining new workers into the rhythms and demands of industrial labour’ (Patulny 2019). Over the various times in history, family structures have changed and adapted to the means of society. References Cooper, S.M. (1999) 'Historical analysis of the family' in Sussman, Marvin B, Steinmetz, Suzanne K & Peterson, Gary W, Handbook of marriage and the family, 2nd ed., Plenum Press, New York, pp. 13-37. Patulny, R 2019, ‘Classical and Industrial Communities’, lecture, SOC208, University of Wollongong, delivered 11 March 2019.

Liam O'Neill said : Guest Report a month ago

Drawing from the Coontz reading the family has benefitted from Industrial society and is not as pessimistic as Engels interpretation. An example of the increase in family quality is evident in the concept of a sit-down family meal was only invented in the mid nineteenth century (Coontz, 2000) and now has become common place in most Australian households and this allows families to connect and bond. Of course, there are also disadvantages to this new way of family living in a post-industrial society, in contemporary western society youth have become excluded from the role of production and are positioned in the role of the consumer (Coontz, 2000). But cities have evolved from places of work as Engels explains them to places of living that is why so much more money is being invested to ensure wellbeing is considered in the design of future cities and not just the efficiency of the worker.

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