Robert Owen and his Legacy
|ISBN: 9780708324424 (0708324428)Dyddiad Cyhoeddi Tachwedd 2011 |
Cyhoeddwr: Gwasg Prifysgol Cymru / University of Wales Press, CaerdyddFformat: Clawr Caled, 240x160 mm, 288 tudalen
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Gwnaeth Robert Owen gyfraniad aruthrol i fywyd cymdeithasol y bedwaredd ganrif ar bymtheg. Roedd yn feddyliwr praff ac yn gyflogwr teg, a gweithiodd i hyrwyddo mentrau cydweithredol, undebau llafur ac addysg i'r gweithwyr.
A radical thinker and humanitarian employer, Owen made a major contribution to nineteenth-century social movements including co-operatives, trade unions and workers' education. He was a pioneer of enlightened approaches to the education of children and an advocate of birth control.
Robert Owen (1771-1858) was certainly a man way ahead of his time. During his lifetime, he endeavoured to improve the health, education, well-being and rights of the working classes. This driving ambition to create a better society for all took him around the world, from a small mill village in Lanarkshire in Scotland to New Harmony, Indiana in America, with varied success. Although he encountered much criticism and opposition in his lifetime, he influenced a large number of the reformers who came after him, and, as the essays in this collection clearly demonstrate, many of his views remain relevant, still resonating today in their modernity and progressive nature. He is often also considered an early British Socialist with a distinct Socialist legacy to the twentieth century and beyond.
This attractive volume comprises twelve scholarly contributions from academics, mainly penned by the younger generation of scholars. They originated as papers given at a colloquium to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the death of Robert Owen held at Gregynog Hall, the residential conference centre of the University of Wales near Newtown in Montgomeryshire, in August 2008.
Ian Donnachie re-examines critically what Robert Owen actually achieved at his New Lanark workplace, which was universally hailed as the focus of fair treatment for all workers and as the centre for the promotion of a rich array of new educational and environmental ideas. Gregory Claeys turns to Owen’s contribution to the subsequent evolution of Socialism and an enduring sense of ‘community’, while Lorna Davidson and Jim Arnold analyse briefly the enduring legacy, still clearly visible to us today, of the pioneering New Lanark experiment.
Francis O’Hagan discusses Robert Owen’s ideas in relation to education, which he avidly promoted throughout his long life, while Robert Davis places the emphasis on Owen's religious ideas, notably his enduring stress on the role of Spiritualism. One of the joint editors, Noel Thompson, relates Owen’s ideas on consumption to the present-day world, while Margaret Escott, in a most precise scholarly survey, examines Robert Owen as a party politician and evaluates his significant contribution to the evolution of parliament as a British institution. Ben Maw meanwhile takes as his theme Owen’s ‘unintended legacy’ to the development of ‘class conflict’ in Britain.
Geoffrey Powell devotes his attention to Robert Owen’s so-called ‘vision problem’, while Malcolm Chase focuses on Owen’s legacy to Thomas Powell and the Tropical Emigration Society. The second joint-editor, Chris Williams, emphasises Owen’s contribution as a radical thinker specifically in a Welsh context – a previously rather neglected dimension. The final contribution by Stephen Yeo evaluates Owen’s bequest to the subsequent evolution of ‘co-operative politics’, focusing on ten distinct elements.
All the essays are readable, by acknowledged specialists in their fields, and all are based on the latest relevant research on Robert Owen. Many of them suggest possible avenues for further research and writing and rescue Robert Owen from possible neglect. All the articles have full footnote references, and there is also a helpful short bibliography of works on Robert Owen.
J. Graham Jones
It is possible to use this review for promotional purposes, but the following acknowledgment should be included: A review from www.gwales.com, with the permission of the Welsh Books Council.
Gellir defnyddio'r adolygiad hwn at bwrpas hybu, ond gofynnir i chi gynnwys y gydnabyddiaeth ganlynol: Adolygiad oddi ar www.gwales.com, trwy ganiatâd Cyngor Llyfrau Cymru.
Noel Thompson is Professor of History and Pro Vice-Chancellor at Swansea University.
Chris Williams is Professor of Welsh History and Director of the Research Institute for Arts and Humanities at Swansea University.
J. F. C. Harrison has written that ‘for each age there is a new view of Mr Owen’, which is proof of the fertility and continuing relevance of his ideas. Not just in Britain and America but today around the world anti-poverty campaigners, birth-controllers, collectivists, communitarians, co-operators, ecologists, educationalists, environmentalists, feminists, humanitarians, internationalists, paternalistic capitalists, secularists, campaigners for social justice, trade unionists, urban planners, utopians, welfare reformers can all find something to admire and inspire in the treasure trove that is the thought and actions of Robert Owen (1771-1858).
Owen was a creative genius of global significance, a radical writer and activist of international reputation and reach who inspired those seeking to change human society for the better. He established utopian communities in both the United Kingdom and the United States of America, and is often thought of as a leading early British socialist.
This volume consists of twelve essays from both leading scholars on the life, work and legacy of Owen and younger researchers coming to the field afresh. Owen notoriously (and impressively) dabbled in many spheres, and this is reflected in the breadth of content. The unifying themes are Owen’s profile in his own time, and the relevance of his ideas for the generations that followed. His importance for educational and social philosophy, for political economy and for the political theory of socialism are all discussed, as are his contribution as a philanthropic employer, his political activities and the specificities of his historical context.
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