The Transition From An Agrarian Society

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The fifty years leading up to 1877 exemplified little successes for workers’ movements due to the drastic nature of change during this time period. The transition from an agrarian society to an industrial empire had challenged old American values such as outwork and interdependence found within rural communities. Specifically, division of labor and technological advancements during this time period had shifted society from being self-reliant (agrarian) to dependent on large businesses (industry). In Who Built America by Christopher Clark, Nancy Hewitt, Joshua Brown, and David Jaffee, they highlighted how this shift to large-scale manufacturing had led to the little impact of workers’ movements within the fifty years prior to 1877. Divided within their trades and collectively weak, many movements simply couldn’t compete with the power of large corporations who held a lot of power in this time period. However, by the last quarter of the 19th century, workers’ began adapting to this new labor structure and were able to have success against industrial capitalists. The very same technologies that benefitted large companies by expanding townships into inter-regional markets had given the opportunity for labor organizers to establish a national platform to confront labor and economic inequality. To begin with, technological advancement, immigration and the political power of corporations had played direct roles on the insignificant nature of workers’ movements leading up
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