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The Condition of the Working Class in England

3.92  ·  Rating details ·  2,089 Ratings  ·  69 Reviews
The Condition of the Working Class is the best-known work of Engels, and in many ways still the best study of the working class in Victorian England. It was also Engels's first book, written during his stay in Manchester from 1842 to 1844. Manchester was then at the very heart of the Industrial Revolution and Engels compiled his study from his own observations and detailed ...more
Paperback, 304 pages
Published June 2nd 1987 by Penguin Classics (first published 1845)
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Introduction, by Tristram Hunt
To the Working Classes of Great Britain
Preface to the First German Edition
Preface to the English Edition

--The Condition of the Working Class in England

Epilogue, by Victor Kiernan
Further Reading
Deborah Pickstone
Engels' study of the working class in Manchester in the 19th century. Personally, Engels was the hero not Marx - and is also the more accessible writer. This is a fascinating account of what it was to be working class at that time. It is a classic of whatever genre you wish to ascribe it to, very readable (this is at least my 5th re-read, for a challenge).
Jul 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I must say upfront I detest Marxist-Leninism in its 20th century form and the post-modern left with their support for terrorism, Islamism , Jew/Israel-hatred, dictatorship and anti-white racism. Though I am a democratic socialist in the tradition of
Aneurin Bevan and Harold Wilson . But this book as a work of history for anyone studying the circumstances of the working class in Britain at the time this is indispensable
As a historian Engels was brilliant.
The fact is that the Industrial Revolution
A harrowing and frightening book. Some things really have not changed over the past two centuries.

A grisly tour of the slums of the factory towns of the Industrial Revolution. Engels, an angry young man, details the blackened suffering of the workers there, their ignorance, poverty, sickness. I recall many similar details from Mike Davis' book on a 'planet of slums', and many things I've seen too. Beggars with severed and gnarled limbs, live wires, poisoned water. The narrow maze-like patch-work
David Wen
May 05, 2016 rated it liked it
Sobering look into the lives of people during the industrial revolution. It's very apparent why communism was started given the situations the people had to endure. Class warfare on an extreme scale compared to what it's like nowadays.
Jade Heslin
Dec 04, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This started off as being the foulest piece of drudgery that I had ever cast my eyes upon. Engels is a very wordy man, and once he gets going he’s like a steam train in motion. But once we get past the gruelling first chapter, in which he lists all the different types of fabrics and methods of making them, we actually get a terrific, thought-provoking, persuasive argument against capitalism.

AND IT HAS LOTS OF MANCHESTER IN IT! He wrote this while he was here with his bezzo, Karl Marx. I absolute
Aug 22, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Marxists; labor historians; Victorian studies readers
Excellent work on Industrial Revolution, but it does contain racist ugly filth about the Irish.
Feb 25, 2012 rated it really liked it
The only reason I don't give this book five stars is that a good part of it is filled with a detailed account of the very thing it is supposed to be about - the awful condition of the workers. How can that be a liability? It is because you don't need to know all the details in 2011.

You can get an excellent idea of the conditions by reading just a few pages - long hours, dangerous machinery, no sick leave, poor nutrition, freezing or hot work environment, preying upon women by overseers, fines or
Matti Karjalainen
Friedrich Engelsin nuoruudentyö "Työväenluokan asema Englannissa" (Into, 2015) ilmestyi alun perin vuonna 1845, mutta suomeksi se saatiin ensimmäisen kerran julkaistua vasta tänä vuonna.

Teos on voimakas poliittinen manifesti, mutta myös mielenkiintoinen aikamatka teollistuneen vallankumouksen läpikäyneeseen Iso-Britanniaan ja työväenluokan elämään tehdaskaupungeissa. 1800-luvun historiasta kiinnostunut lukija saa hänkin kirjasta varmasti paljon irti.

"Työväenluokan asema Englannissa" ei ole kuit
Rosa Ramôa
Jan 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing
"Este aglomerado de dois milhões e meio de seres humanos (...) elevou Londres a capital comercial do mundo (...).Mas os sacrifícios que tudo isto custou manifestaram-se mais tarde.(...)As centenas de milhar de pessoas de todas as classes e categorias sociais que se acotovelam não serão todos seres humanos com as mesmas qualidades e faculdades e com o mesmo interesse em serem felizes? (...)".
In the words of my partner, a corker. It leaves you with a number of impressions.

The most overpowering is just rage and sadness at how the industrial revolution decimated lives. Half of children dead by the age of 5, average life expectancy from 45 to 50, the malnourtrition, cold, damp, misshapen bodies, impotency and infertility, lost limbs, lost lives.
'The English working men call this 'social murder', and accuse our whole society of perpetrating this crime perpetually. Are they wrong? (38)

Aug 23, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I must say upfront I detest Marxist-Leninism in its 20th century form and the post-modern left with their support for terrorism, Islamism , Jew/Israel-hatred, dictatorship and anti-white racism. Though I am a democratic socialist in the tradition of
Aneurin Bevan and Harold Wilson . But this book as a work of history for anyone studying the circumstances of the working class in Britain at the time this is indispensable
As a historian Engels was brilliant.
The fact is that the Industrial Revolution
Anton Himmelstrand
May 29, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: librivox
Enjoyable both as an historical document and as a political statement about industrial society.

In “The Condition of the Working Class in England”, Engels gives a long an detailed description of the state of the great Victorian industrial towns – and of their less fortunate inhabitants. The reader is shepherded through crumbling working-man's districts, gin-palaces, prison-like factory floors, mines filled with lung-destroying dust, damp cellars and the increasingly mechanized countryside. In man
Comrade  Mohd Aliff
This book paints a VERY shocking picture of 19th century England during Industrial Revolution and also of Capitalism in general. It's not a theoretical work unlike many of Engels' other works but rather a SOCIAL REPORT on how the workers being exploited while denying them the most basic principles of human rights and dignity. A must-read classics; readable and informative.
Nov 12, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: marxism
Heavily detailed and a little repetitive in content, hence many pages were skim-read. A fantastic insight into the conditions of the working class in the early days of industrialisation and capitalism. An important historical text.
Kevin Varney
An interesting book. I have read Elizabeth Gaskell's books North and South and Mary Barton, which are set in the same city at the same time about the same people. It was interesting to compare and contrast. This is what unregulated laisser-faire market economics looks like.
G.D. Master
Jun 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Academics, economists, sociologists, literary critics, and philosophers
During the nineteenth century steam power and the cotton gin changed economics, cities, and social classes. Much of the industrialized specialization or rationalization of the world that people and the media take for granted in the twenty-first century began during this period. More people started to live in cities and a middle class labor force grew from employment in industry and commerce. Unforeseen problems began to occur when industrialists learned that they could use workers for extended h ...more
Scott Goddard
Jan 04, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This anthropological, ethnographic study examines the English Working Class, with particular emphasis and inquiry into the "North", that is to say, Manchester, Scotland, and other towns and cities that lie above Birmingham. Of course Engels lucidly describes towns and cities of the South, but to a lesser extent.

From a quick cursory read over the other reviews, one criticism of the book is a recurrent iteration of the same point; for me, this point does not hold, and I felt there to be a apprecia
Feb 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Erittäin suositeltavaa luettavaa kaikille pääoma-faneille, sen kriitikoille ja historiasta yleensä kiinnostuneille, sillä kirja sisältää hyvää ja mielenkiintoista ajankuvausta.

Pääomaa lukeneille kirja on mielenkiintoinen, sillä siitä löytyy monta pääomastakin myöhemmin löytyvää ajatusta ja paikoin samaa tyyliä. Kirja syventää ymmärrystä Pääoman synnystä, sillä se taustoittaa Pääoman kuvaamien ilmiöiden taustoja ja sitoo kirjan paremmin aikaansa.

Kirja käy hyvin myös ajankohtaisesta puheenvuorosta
Sep 20, 2014 rated it liked it
I have read this - Engels is as fun of a person as Marx!
It is not very happy of a book, but in my History of Communism class, I am positive I saw this before.
Oct 18, 2015 rated it really liked it
Anthony Zupancic
Oct 02, 2014 rated it liked it
It certainly identifies the horrible social effects of the industrial revolution. If you are unsure where the Communist Manifesto came from, or why, read this.
Nov 17, 2015 rated it it was ok
The books is a very important text if you are a researcher or you like history, other than that no fun read.though some parts are repetitive and boring, but on the overall an insightful reading.
Feb 03, 2015 rated it really liked it
Littered with Marxist thought, but otherwise a really good insight into 19th century Britain.
Adam Ford
Sep 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
Engels wrote this assessment of the English class when he was very young, new to Manchester, and as bourgeois as those he criticised so scathingly here. He also thought the revolution was imminent, had some strange opinions about Irish people, and in general was not the great materialist he would later become. Still, well worth the read for the snapshot of the English struggle, and perhaps also for those in 'developing' nations, where workers are being newly super-exploited in a similar way to t ...more
Ian Ryan
Sep 23, 2016 rated it really liked it
Some of this was rather shocking to read. I mean, of course I was aware of some of the awful stuff that had gone down to working class people during the industrial revolution and the years that had followed it, but to have it clearly enumerated and quantified through the use of statistics and eyewitness reports and the likes is genuinely horrifying.

Then again, Engels has a relatively shitty attitude towards Irish people. I know that it's somewhat unfair to look down on him as he was a product o
Jul 21, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This is a book I should have read in school. It's a book everyone should read in school to be fair but I feel as if I was cheated a little in the fact that I was taught about all the subjects in this book. We covered the enclosure acts and how the common lands were sold to those with enough money to buy them whilst the poor peasants were turfed off the land they used for their livelihoods. Deprived of this means of existence they were forced to migrate to the cities to work in the burgeoning man ...more
Stephen Mahon
Engels detailed study of the working class in Victorian England is remarkable when you consider (a) He was German and (b) he was only 25 when he completed it. He out does the anti Semitism in some of his other tomes with a fair smattering of anti Irishness in this one. But no matter. We can put that down to age. o.O Reads like a detailed and thorough report in parts, but isn't without humour. And it is a thoroughly fascinating stroll around English cities of that era.

Random quotes:

“In Birmingham
Dec 27, 2012 rated it really liked it
America “solved” its class problem with a myth of upward mobility that appeared to be real for three decades, thanks to what Galbraith in 1952 called countervailing power; a means Engles suggested, more than a century, was the only resource available to the destitute working class of England – albeit as a step toward revolution. Perhaps the English working class Engles credits with knowing the cause of its mid-19th Century plight did comprehend it better than America’s in the 21st Century, where ...more
Oct 23, 2010 rated it really liked it
Seminal study of the working class. Engels explores some of the factory towns in Northern England and finds them wanting. From a Marxist standpoint this book is a cautionary tale of what happens when workers don't control the means of diddly; from a human standpoint it's a tragic, vivid document of lives lived in subhuman conditions. This book was one of the early reformist treatises that helped pave the way for labor laws and social improvement during the height of the industrial revolution. En ...more
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In 1820, Friedrich Engels was born in Germany into a wealthy family. Managing a branch of his father's business in Manchester, England, from 1842-1845, Engels became appalled at the poverty of the workers. He wrote his first socialist work, Conditions of the Working Class in England. After their meeting in 1844, Engels and Karl Marx became lifelong colleagues. While co-writing an article with Enge ...more
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“The middle classes have a truly extraordinary conception of society. They really believe that human beings . . . have real existence only if they make money or help to make it.” 14 likes
“Competition is the completest expression of the battle of all against all which rules in modern civil society. This battle, a battle for life, for existence, for everything, in case of need a battle of life and death, is fought not between the different classes of society only, but also between the individual members of these classes. Each is in the way of the other, and each seeks to crowd out all who are in his way, and to put himself in their place. The workers are in as constant competition among themselves as the members of the bourgeoisie among themselves. The power-loom weaver is in competition with the hand-loom weaver, the unemployed or ill-paid hand-loom weaver with the man who has work or is better paid, each trying to supplant the other. But this competition of the workers among themselves is the worst side of the present state of things in its effect upon the worker, the sharpest weapon against the proletariat in the hands of the bourgeoisie. Hence the effort of the workers to nullify this competition by associations, hence the hatred of the bourgeoisie towards these associations, and its triumph in every defeat which befalls them.” 0 likes
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