How did the changes brought about by the factory system challenge the family? How do some of the authors included in Chapter Four, in Rogers, treat this issue? Does Mary Shelley have any insights or criticisms with regard to the family and industrial society?
The changes brought about by the factory system changed drastically the whole family structure. This is especially evident from the way children and women were treated in the industrial society. Mary Shelley's Frankenstein discusses changes within the family from two different perspectives one of which is Victor's and the other one that of the creature.
The Industrial Revolution created a unique new category of people who were dependent on their job alone for income, a job from which they might be laid off without any reason. The factory worker had no land, no home, and no source of income but his job. Working in the factory meant more self-discipline and less personal freedom for workers. The system tended to depersonalize society and reduced workers to an impersonal status. This Economy powered by machines, turned people into machines as well.
Even though life overall was improving, the industrialism brought misery to the workers and their families. Family structure and gender roles within the family were changed by the growth of the industrial society. Families as economic unit did not exist anymore. Productive work was taken out of the cottage. A new pattern of family life emerged. Families now worked on factories and mills for people they did not know. Production was the key in the industrial society and family was a minor issue. Families were less closely bound together than in the past - the economic link was broken.
Children became an essential part of the factory system. Little children could work in such areas where a normal-sized adult would not fit. So factory and mine owners depended on child labor greatly. They especially depended on children who...