Good Example Of Paternalism And Labor Essay

Type of paper: Essay

Topic: Workplace, Slavery, Employee, Employment, Labor, Human Resource Management, Family, Business

Pages: 3

Words: 825

Published: 2021/01/10

Paternalism and Labor

Paternalism and Labor in the North and in the South
Paternalism can be described as the policy of relationships between and “employer” and an “employee”. The relationship takes on the characteristics of a familial relationship, the employer as the father figure and the employee as the child. In addition to pay, in whatever form, there is implied a commitment on the part of the employer towards the employee and vice versa. The term employee is being used loosely due to the fact this may be a slave, indentured servant or an employee. Forms of paternalism are still seen in today’s economy with programs such as welfare and unemployment.
In the Northern United States, slavery was not common. Instead, as the Northern States became more industrialized, paternalism began to wane in its popularity. Apprenticeship is an excellent example of paternalism. A young man is bound by contract to an adult to learn a trade such as printing or blacksmithing. The practices of apprenticeship and indentured servitude began to disappear especially after the passage of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution. Required education for children also interfered with the practice of apprenticeship since many childrenin the north were required to attend school .Division between the owner of the business and the labor became more of a business agreement. The relationship that existed in small business ventures between the owner and the employee as a lifelong, father/son type relationship shifted to a much less personal one. As industrialization grew and factories and business concerns became much larger, the space between employer and employee also widened. This discrepancy led to the formation of unions and the demand for labor laws. Employees were being treated much more harshly, being paid less and given respect in any fashion.
In the South, however, paternalism was a strong presence during slavery and continued to be after the Emancipation Proclamation. Plantation owners needed the slaves to work their large agricultural concerns. The slave owner took on the role of a “father” to his slaves, even though they were regarded as property. There was a religious motivation to this attitude for man slave owners. They used the religious argument to defend slavery stating that they were actually helping the slaves by introducing them to Christianity. The slaves depended upon the owner to care for them, and in return he provided food, shelter and protection. Even after the Civil War, paternalism continued a strong existence in the South. Landowners leased out pieces of their land to black sharecroppers. Often the homes they lived in and the stores the bought food in were owned by the same man.

Labor and Control over their Environment

Traditional paternalism had been absent in the industrial north for a long time in the south, it still had a hold on blacks. In order to gain control over their employment situation, industrialized workers in the North began to form unions. In the south, black sharecroppers would not see equal opportunity or any form of control until the 1960’s with the advent of Civil Rights. Traditional paternalism had been absent in the industrial north for a long time in the south, it still had a hold on blacks.
Labor in the north began to organize and form unions. Through cooperation and unions they were able to effect change in workplace conditions. The government at the time was not interested in imposing laws on employers that regulated safety or working conditions so workers to matters into their own hands. When workers got enough support amongst themselves, staging a strike or forcing negotiations with employers turned out to be very effective. Employers were in a position that forced them to negotiate. The process of hiring an all new workforce would not have been cost effective or efficient. Stories and incidents of workers being maimed and killed, wages that were below a living standard and the employment of children prompted the earliest strikes and sit-downs. This type of team work and banding together gave the workers strength and confidence. The early labor movement has provided modern workers with reasonable hours, wages and safe working conditions.
In the south, the end of slavery did not mean the end of paternalism. Sharecroppers and poor blacks were displaced by the Emancipation Proclamation. They were faced with beginning a new life and were often at the mercy or former slave owners and other unscrupulous businessmen. Blacks did not really find freedom from paternalism until they moved away from the rural areas and agriculture and into the cities. In the cities, in both the north and south, blacks created their own neighborhoods and opened their own businesses. They were able to find work in the factories, although they were not paid as well as their white peers. However this migration from the country to the city to move the black population closer to equality. The Civil Rights movement of the 1960’s got its start in the south and had its support in the north. Whites and immigrants in the north who were victims of industrialization supported blacks in their endeavor for equality.
Labor in the United States in both the north and south has dramatically changed in the last 170 years. Paternalism, or the care for employees or slaves became an abuse with the continuation of slavery and abuse in growing industrialization of the north. Unions and laws have greatly improved conditions for employees.

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