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‘Cold, Calculating Political Economy’: Fixed costs, the Rate of Profit and the Length of the Working Day in the Factory Act Debates, 1832-1847

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  • Toms, Steven

Abstract

The paper re-analyses the evidence presented by pro and anti-regulation interests during the debates on factory reform. To do so it considers the interrelationship between fixed costs, the rate of profit and the length of the working day. The interrelationship casts new light on the lobbying positions on either side of the debate. It does so by comparing the evidence presented in the debates before parliament and associated pamphlets with actual figures contained in the business records of implicated firms. As a result the paper identifies the compromise position of the working day length compatible with reasonable rates of profit based on actual cost structures. It is thereby able to reinterpret the validity of the claims of contemporary political economy used to support the cases for and against factory regulation.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by University Library of Munich, Germany in its series MPRA Paper with number 54408.

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Date of creation: 13 Mar 2014
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Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:54408

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Keywords: Factory Acts; working hours; rate of profit; cost structure; accounting records;

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References

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  1. Anderson, Gary M & Ekelund, Robert B, Jr & Tollison, Robert D, 1989. "Nassau Senior as Economic Consultant: The Factory Acts Reconsidered," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 56(221), pages 71-81, February.
  2. Siegel, Jeremy J., 1992. "The real rate of interest from 1800-1990 : A study of the U.S. and the U.K," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 29(2), pages 227-252, April.
  3. Lazonick, William, 1981. "Competition, Specialization, and Industrial Decline," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge University Press, vol. 41(01), pages 31-38, March.
  4. Clark, Gregory, 1994. "Factory Discipline," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge University Press, vol. 54(01), pages 128-163, March.
  5. Toms, J.S., 2010. "Calculating profit: A historical perspective on the development of capitalism," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 35(2), pages 205-221, February.
  6. Mueller, F. & Carter, C., 2007. "`We are all managers now': Managerialism and professional engineering in UK electricity utilities," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 32(1-2), pages 181-195.
  7. Gray,Robert, 2002. "The Factory Question and Industrial England, 1830–1860," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521892926.
  8. Huberman,Michael, 2010. "Escape from the Market," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521142663.
  9. Clark Nardinelli, 1985. "The Successful Prosecution of the Factory Acts: A Suggested Explanation," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, Economic History Society, vol. 38(3), pages 428-430, 08.
  10. Humphries,Jane, 2010. "Childhood and Child Labour in the British Industrial Revolution," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521847568.
  11. Marvel, Howard P, 1977. "Factory Regulation: A Reinterpretation of Early English Experience," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, University of Chicago Press, vol. 20(2), pages 379-402, October.
  12. Harley, C. Knick, 2012. "Was technological change in the early Industrial Revolution Schumpeterian? Evidence of cotton textile profitability," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 49(4), pages 516-527.
  13. Toms, Steven, 2005. "Financial control, managerial control and accountability: evidence from the British Cotton Industry, 1700-2000," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 30(7-8), pages 627-653.
  14. Berg,Maxine, 1982. "The Machinery Question and the Making of Political Economy 1815–1848," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521287593.
  15. Cooper, David J. & Sherer, Michael J., 1984. "The value of corporate accounting reports: Arguments for a political economy of accounting," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 9(3-4), pages 207-232, October.
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Blog mentions

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  1. How Long Should the Working Day Be?
    by crowleymarkj in NEP-HIS blog on 2014-05-19 10:48:46

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