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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.

Suggested Citation

  • Toms, Steven, 2014. "‘Cold, Calculating Political Economy’: Fixed costs, the Rate of Profit and the Length of the Working Day in the Factory Act Debates, 1832-1847," MPRA Paper 54408, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:54408
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    File URL: https://mpra.ub.uni-muenchen.de/54408/1/MPRA_paper_54408.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. 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.
    2. 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, vol. 56(221), pages 71-81, February.
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    4. 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.
    5. Lazonick, William, 1981. "Competition, Specialization, and Industrial Decline," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 41(01), pages 31-38, March.
    6. Huberman,Michael, 2010. "Escape from the Market," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521142663.
    7. Humphries,Jane, 2010. "Childhood and Child Labour in the British Industrial Revolution," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521847568.
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    Blog mentions

    As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. How Long Should the Working Day Be?
      by crowleymarkj in NEP-HIS blog on 2014-05-19 15:48:46
    2. How Long Should the Working Day Be?
      by crowleymarkj in NEP-HIS blog on 2014-05-19 15:48:46

    More about this item

    Keywords

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

    JEL classification:

    • J21 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Labor Force and Employment, Size, and Structure
    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials
    • L50 - Industrial Organization - - Regulation and Industrial Policy - - - General
    • L67 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Manufacturing - - - Other Consumer Nondurables: Clothing, Textiles, Shoes, and Leather Goods; Household Goods; Sports Equipment
    • M4 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Accounting
    • N4 - Economic History - - Government, War, Law, International Relations, and Regulation
    • N44 - Economic History - - Government, War, Law, International Relations, and Regulation - - - Europe: 1913-
    • N8 - Economic History - - Micro-Business History
    • O14 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Industrialization; Manufacturing and Service Industries; Choice of Technology
    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration
    • O38 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Government Policy

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