‘Cold, Calculating Political Economy’: Fixed Costs, the Rate of Profit and the Length of the Working Day in the Factory Act Debates, 1832-1847.

37 Pages Posted: 22 Feb 2014  

Steve Toms

University of Leeds - Leeds University Business School (LUBS); University of Leeds - Division of Accounting and Finance

Date Written: February 20, 2014

Abstract

The paper re-analyses the evidence presented by pro and anti-regulation interests during the debates on factory reform. To do so it considers the interrelationship between fixed costs, the rate of profit and the length of the working day. The interrelationship casts new light on the lobbying positions on either side of the debate. It does so by comparing the evidence presented in the debates before parliament and associated pamphlets with actual figures contained in the business records of implicated firms. As a result the paper identifies the compromise position of the working day length compatible with reasonable rates of profit based on actual cost structures. It is thereby able to reinterpret the validity of the claims of contemporary political economy used to support the cases for and against factory regulation.

Keywords: Factory Acts, working hours, rate of profit, cost structure, accounting, cotton industry

JEL Classification: J21, J31, K31, L50, L67, M4, N13, O14, O15, O38

Suggested Citation

Toms, Steve, ‘Cold, Calculating Political Economy’: Fixed Costs, the Rate of Profit and the Length of the Working Day in the Factory Act Debates, 1832-1847. (February 20, 2014). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2399087 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2399087

Steve Toms (Contact Author)

University of Leeds - Leeds University Business School (LUBS) ( email )

Leeds LS2 9JT
United Kingdom

University of Leeds - Division of Accounting and Finance ( email )

Leeds LS2 9JT
United Kingdom

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