4.4 Robert Owen and New Lanark
Robert Owen (1771–1858) 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. Profitting 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. Some of his ideas were confirmed by personal experience as a philanthropic employer who strongly emphasized the importance of environment, education and, ultimately, cooperation in improving social conditions.
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(12 study hours)
By the end of this free course you should 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.