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Robert Owen and New Lanark
Childcare, education, working conditions, healthcare, crime … these issues are hotly...
Childcare, education, working conditions, healthcare, crime … these issues are hotly debated in today's society. They are also issues that Robert Owen, seen by some as a visionary and by others as a knave and a charlatan, sought to address in the early 1800s. This unit uses a series of essays written by Owen to explore the ideas of this important and controversial figure.
By the end of this unit you should be able to understand:
- the Enlightenment ideas that underpinned Robert Owen's social reform agenda;
- how Owen's background and experience at New Lanark fed through into his thinking in the essays in A New View of Society;
- the main proposals in the essays;
- New Lanark's role as a model for social reform during this period.
- Current section: Introduction
- Learning outcomes
- 1 A New View of Society
- 2 Progress and the economy
- 3 Politics: Radicalism and reaction
- 4 The making of a social reformer
- 5 The background to the essays
- 6 The essays
- 7 New Lanark as showpiece and text
- 8 Impact of the essays
- 9 The factory reform movement
- 10 Working-class distress and planned communities
- 11 Conclusion
- 12 Glossary
- Next steps
Robert Owen and New Lanark
Robert Owen (1771–1858) (see Figure 1) was one of the most important and controversial figures of his generation. He lived through the ages of Enlightenment and Romanticism and was personally touched by the ideas and dramatic changes that characterised that era. Profiting enormously during the first half of his life from the progress of industry and having the financial means, he later devoted himself to publicising and practising his social and economic ideas. Most of these derived from Enlightenment notions and, he thought, could eliminate poverty and crime, contributing to social and moral betterment.
This unit is an adapted extract from the Open University course