SOCIAL CHANGE AND THE FAMILY: NEW BEDFORD, MASSACHUSETTS, 1860-1880
This is a study of the relationships between changes in the social organization of production and the social organization of reproduction. It examines the impact of rapid capitalist industrialization in New Bedford from 1860 to 1880 on household and family organization, conceptualized as aspects of the social organization of reproduction. To elucidate this relationship, three research questions were asked: (1) which aspects of household organization changed? (2) how much did they change? and (3) why did they change?; Changes in household organization were related to the changes in the access of households to the resources necessary for the reproduction of the household. Over the period studied, various aspects of household organization, such as household type, fertility, and the number of wage earners, became more closely correlated to the level of resources of the household, as indicated by the household head's occupation, personal wealth, and real estate wealth. Personal wealth holdings became more concentrated, real estate wealth became more evenly distributed, and wage labor became the major source of access to resources. The patterns of changes in household organization are consistent with an interpretation which emphasizes how changes in the social organization of production affect families and households by altering the access of households to resources. Patterns of family and household organization are interpreted as outcomes of family strategies through which families and households adjust to and resist the changes in their access to resources brought about by capitalist industrialization. Other specific findings include: (1) a doubling of the percentage of extended households, (2) a decline in household size, (3) a decrease in boarding, (4) an increase in the number of wage earners per household, (5) an increase in child labor, and (6) a decline in fertility levels, with immigrant fertility being significantly higher than native-born fertility. It is also suggested that real estate wealth may actually be an indicator of disaccumulation for working-class households. Comparisons to other areas are made, especially western Massachusetts. This research is based on random samples of households drawn from the Federal Census Manuscripts for 1860 and 1880, which were linked to city directories, and the 1880 tax rolls. Data analysis was carried out with cross-tabulations and Multiple Classification Analysis.