This Essay Is About Drinking And Industrial Work Discipline. Drinking On The Job Was Normal Until The Rise Of Industrialization In Europe, This Essay Explains Why The Change In Attitude Occured.

1017 words - 4 pages

Emerging from the pre-industrial era, alcohol was very much a part of workers' lives both at work and at home. Alcohol was a thirst quencher, a dietary supplement and a stimulant. Alcohol also played a social role in that it helped form bonds among men. At first employers encouraged the use of alcohol, but later during the Industrial Revolution their views began to change. Employers felt that the use of alcohol was a problem; it created an obstacle to industrial work and discipline. Alcohol in their eyes was conducive to absenteeism, accidents, inefficiency, and insubordination. The reasons for the changes in the workplace are discussed below.Pre-industrial Europe allowed drinking on the job. The pace of work varied according to life's other plans. Discussion, drink, and song were all part of the workday. The use of alcohol as a stimulant, and thirst quencher, and for social exchanges was prevalent during this time. When an apprentice or journeyman made progress in his profession, all workers enjoyed an informal break where alcohol was served to celebrate. During these events, the master craftsman celebrated with his journeymen and apprentices. After industrialization took off, the workplace required new customs and rituals. However, workers held on to tradition and continued to use alcohol for its social and physiological benefits. Workers believed that, "...they cannot perform their usual work without alcohol." (171) Change at the workplace left less time for socialization outside the job. The work setting became an important place for social interaction. As Rudolf Braun noted, "the less free time the factory worker had for the satisfaction of his social needs, the more he was forced to seek an alternative during working hours. Under the force of these circumstances, the factory workshop itself became an important arena of social life." (171) The use of alcohol at the workplace was seen as normal in the pre-industrialized period. In the new era, however, employers looked differently at not only the workplace, but also the use of alcohol at the workplace.Employers did not like the use of alcohol, but during the transition period, they actually used alcohol to exploit their workers, sending mixed messages about the use of alcohol on the job. Many of the early industrialists shared the same beliefs about alcohol as their workers. They saw it as a stimulant that would help hungry and tired men perform during extremely trying times. It was cheaper to spend a couple of pennies on alcohol than on wages. As a physician explained, "The intention, is to stimulate the poor worker to extraordinary exertion with a couple of glasses of Brandy costing only a few pennies, so that the project can be completed more quickly and perhaps four times as much can be saved in wages than was spent on liquor." (173) Employers also used a truck system, which benefited the profits of the employers. It was a credit policy, the employers would let the workers buy alcohol and...

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