British industrialisation and design 1830-1851 : with special reference to printing and figure-weaving in the Lancashire and West Riding textile industries
The thesis discusses the causes of the failure of the early Victorian textile industries to produce fine designs, and analyses the responses of manufacturers, artisans and critics to the issues raised by the problem. In Part 1 the historical changes of 'key words' such as art craft, artisan and artist are surveyed. It is suggested that changes in technology and work organisation and the formation of new social classes were mainly responsible for changes in the use of language. Part 2 looks at the labour process: technological changes and their results in the production of design are traced back and aesthetic aspects of the machinery question are analysed. The division of labour, its consequences in the designing process, and the nature of work (child labour in particular) are examined. The workers' defence of their skills and their desire to regain lost skills are also emphasised in the first two Parts: Part 3 then analyses economic, social and cultural aspects of the artistic education that was provided as a remedy for declining artistic standards and workmanship. Industrial exhibitions are discussed in the context of the education of the public in 'taste', as well as of the commercial interests of the manufacturing sectors. Part 4 discusses the market, where the design had become a relatively important part of the value of commodities. Manufacturers' concern with piracy and the protection of design copyright are examined; the interests of pro- and anti-copyright campaigners are discussed in relation to the free trade movement. Finally, the responses of manufacturers and merchants towards 'fashion' in the market are analysed: it is argued that the arbiters of 'taste' were more likely to be manufacturers and merchants than designers, and that the former did indeed damage the reputation of British design and created a problem which became apparent when other industrial nations caught up with Britain in technological achievement.