Factory and fantasy in Andrew Ure

Edwards, Steve (2001). Factory and fantasy in Andrew Ure. Journal of Design History, 14(1) pp. 17–33.

URL: http://jdh.oxfordjournals.org/


This essay examines Andrew Ure's The Philosophy of Manufactures, published in 1835. Ure's book occupies an important place in debates on the labour process as well as historical accounts of industrialization and the regulation of factory labour. Through a detailed reading of the text's figurative language it is argued that Ure constructs a capitalist utopia of the production process without labour. Central to Ure's book is a social fantasy of autogenesis - machines that produce without workers. In contrast to Taylorist models that promote a fusion of worker and apparatus, I argue that Ure effects a radical separation in which the worker is imagined as the other to the machine. Ure's text is compared to popular utopian thought and located in contemporary medicalizations of the factory. This essay proposes that The Philosophy of Manufactures, and the 'factory guide books' of the 1830s more generally, worked to produce a space for technical experts such as Ure in the emerging middle-class state.

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