The places the working class came from were often characterized by a high level of trade unions and a large amount of strikes. However, only a small part of workers used to be involved in working-class organisations at this time. People of the working-class are those who have no other way to survive than selling their work. They are not owners. The 19th century was a period of industrialization where there was a great increase in productivity of workers. One of the main reasons was the process of mechanization (e.g. steam engine). There were great differences in the level of education and skills. For most workers, there was a rise in the standard of living. The politics of the working-class were often seen as more radical. They were characterized by both national and international solidarity. In the early 19th century, a number of strikes broke out across Europe: 1905 in Germany, 1906 in France, and 1912 in Russia for instance. It would be wrong to say that workers changed their position because they still wanted to fight. The State was very quick to respond with pressure and violence.
[...] The politics of the working-class were often seen as more radical. They were characterized by both national and international solidarity. In the early 19th century, a number of strikes broke out across Europe: 1905 in Germany in France, and 1912 in Russia for instance. It would be wrong to say that workers changed their position because they still wanted to fight. The State was very quick to respond with pressure and violence. There were armed confrontations in Russia and France. [...]
[...] For instance, it was easier to change of job. There were also wider trade unions on the continent, although ‘only' 25% Germans and French were unionized at this time. In the course of the 19th century, Marx had explained that workers were always alienated because they did not earn anything in the process of production. They were like products. However, this is not always true empirically. For example, in Germany, workers could repair machines (autonomy). They could be proud of their work because they were not fully alienated. [...]
[...] The more skilled you were the safer and the freer you were. In France, workers could sometimes work at home with the status of independent crafts workers. In Germany, apprenticeship was much more developed than anywhere else in Europe. Young workers used to go from town to town to learn their work and then got married. Skilled workers were motivated to contrive their learning process. Coalmining by contrast met a limited process (not as many promotions); it was long to become a master miner (very limited social mobility). [...]
[...] Countryside were still wild places. In the 1870s, around 45% of French were peasants. There were poor peasants but also very rich farmers who employed labour. Peasants were slower to change in France than in Germany. Only little technical progress was introduced. References - Ambrosious and Hubbard, Social and Economic History of Twenthieth-Century Europe - Gérard Noiriel, Workers in French Society in the 19th and 20th centuries, English trans., Oxford - Richard J. Evans ed., The German WOrking Class, 1888-1933. [...]
[...] There was a real working-class culture at this time: literature, art. It could have to do with the way of communication at work: particular dialect/vocabulary. It also included another attitude towards gender. Workers were also engaged in self-education, thanks to working-class libraries for example. They read Marx but above all romantic literature (e.g. Dickens). Workers evening class fostered this huge subculture of the working class. Peasants had a different status. In France, they were regarded as geographically different from Paris and the cities. [...]
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