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My apprenticeship

Webb, Beatrice (1926) My apprenticeship. Longmans, London & New York.

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TABLE OF CONTENTS: Introduction. The Ego that affirms and the Ego that denies. The controversy. CHAPTER I: CHARACTER AND CIRCUMSTANCE. The opportunities and the bias of a social investigator are determined by his environment. My family typical of the Industrial Revolution. My father — family affection — the ethics of profit-making — the politics of the business man. My mother — a divided personality — the Victorian creed of self­advancement versus 'The Imitation of Christ. The Household Saint, and her realisation of the religious spirit. Herbert Spencer — a training in reasoning — a lifelong friendship. The home — heterogeneous social environments — the class that gives orders. London Society — the four inner circles — the marriage market — the idol of personal power — an invisible Stock Exchange in social reputations. Decay of Christianity. Intellectual chaos. CHAPTER II: IN SEARCH OF A CREED [1862-1882; aet. 4-24]. An unhappy childhood. The MS. diaries. A confession of sin. Tour in the U.S.A. — the Chinese Quarter —the Mormon City. Self-education. Religious experiences — the study of the Bible — the Doctrine of the Atonement. “Coming out.” The eclipse of faith. Brian Hodgson and Buddhism. Revealed religion rejected. The “Religion of Science” found wanting — the unwarranted optimism of contemporary scientists. The influence of Goethe. Agnosticism. The Roman Catholic Church. The death of my mother. The validity of religious mysticism. CHAPTER III: THE CHOICE OF A CRAFT [1882-1885; aet. 24-27]. Algebra and a ghost. No aptitude for sociology: by taste and temperament a descriptive psychologist. My father’s secretary and housekeeper. Conflicting aims: home-keeping and entertaining versus self-development. Joseph Chamberlain. The “occupational disease” of London Society. The glorification of science. The nature of the scientific method. Francis Galton. Herbert Spencer recommends biology. The riddle of psychology: Can you observe mental characteristics which you do not yourself possess? Consequent complexity of social science. Auguste Comte and the Religion of Humanity. The Frederic Harrisons. I visit my cousins, the cotton operatives of Bacup — their moral refinement and the reality of their religion. I choose the craft of the social investigator. CHAPTER IV: THE FIELD OF CONTROVERSY. The influence of environment on the choice of a subject for investigation. The changed family outlook. The world of politics. The advent of political democracy. The growing consciousness of the poverty of the poor and the meaning of the Industrial Revolution. The birth of British Socialism. Auberon Herbert at home. My confession of faith — political agnosticism tempered by individualist economics. The world of philanthropy. The philanthropist in the ascendant. The Charity Organisation Society. Alms-giving the cause of poverty — administrative nihilism. Samuel and Henrietta Barnett: their advocacy of practicable socialism. The problem of poverty in the midst of riches unsolved. CHAPTER V: A GRAND INQUEST INTO THE CONDITION OF THE PEOPLE OF LONDON. Charles Booth. The scope of his enquiry the four million inhabitants of London. Methods of investigation. The use of the census papers as a statistical framework. The method of wholesale interviewing. The School Attendance Officers as witnesses. The verification of the data. The eight-fold classification of the people according to degrees of poverty. The degradation of overcrowded tenements in mean streets. The poverty maps. The difficulty of classification according to occupation. Charles Booth a pioneer in method. The political effect of the Grand Inquest. The “thirty per cent” in poverty. Destitution and a high birth-rate. The irrelevance of charity. “Individualism in the arms of socialism versus socialism in the arms of individualism.” CHAPTER VI: OBSERVATION AND EXPERIMENT [1884-1890; aet. 26-32]. The management of working-class dwellings. An experiment in housing; the sacrifice of decency to economical and sanitary structure. Its effects on manners and morals. The failure of the experiment. The dead point in my career. A divided personality. Mental misery. The revival of the religious spirit. A disciplined life. Essays in social theory. Herbert Spencer as a critic. Studies in East End life. Labour at the docks. The sweating system. Learning to “sweat”. I seek employment. Evidence before the Lords Committee on Sweating. Disagreeable consequences. The Lords Report. My definition of the sweating system: “all labour engaged in manufacture escaping regulation by Factory Acts and Trade Unions”. The absence of a “responsible” employer. A science of society. All administration is experimental. The fallacy of a “Natural” order of society. Can the scientific method determine ends as well as means? CHAPTER VII: WHY I BECAME A SOCIALIST [1888-1892; aet. 30-34]. The Industrial Revolution: a stupendous success and a tragic failure. The popular ideal of self-employment as a substitute for the dictatorship of the capitalist. The alternative problem of the woman worker. Professor Marshall’s advice. My false step in signing the appeal against the suffrage — why I was an anti-feminist. The Co-operative Movement — co-operative theory and co­operative practice. John Mitchell and the Co-operative Wholesale Society. The failure of the “self-governing workshop”. The success of the Consumers’ Co-operative Movement. The sphere of vocational organisation in the government of industry. A dual control by consumers and producers. Foreign trade may come to consist of reciprocal imports. Conclusions. My father’s last illness. His call for another son-in-law. The man of my destiny. Courting the “clear and analytic mind”! My Apprenticeship ends: Our Partnership begins. APPENDIX: (A) Personal Observation and Statistical Enquiry. (B) The Method of the Interview. (C) The Art of Note-taking. (D) On the Nature of Economic Science. (1) My Objections to a Self-contained, Separate, Abstract Political Economy. (2) A Theory of Value. (E) Why the Self-governing Workshop has failed.

Item Type: Book
Additional Information: The reissues of 1938 and 1971 by Penguin are available from the Library - follow catalogue links.
Subjects: C Auxiliary Sciences of History > CT Biography
H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
H Social Sciences > HX Socialism. Communism. Anarchism
Date Deposited: 29 Jun 2012 14:23
Last Modified: 17 Nov 2015 17:38

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