This article examines the relationship between the adoption of new technology and the decline of child labor in the Progressive Era by closely examining the impact automated bottle machines had on child labor in the U.S. glass industry. Historians have largely assumed that technology has acted as an independent force compelling the replacement of children by machines. However, this study shows that technology had contradictory impacts upon the employment of children, reducing it in some areas and actually stimulating greater employment of children in others, and that the adoption of this technology was highly constrained by legal structures, business strategies, and work relationships on the shop floor. In fact, this study suggests that new automated glass technologies were as much the result of the growing scarcity and rebelliousness of child workers as they were the cause for child labor's decline.
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Timothy Messer-Kruse; Technology and the Decline of Child Labor: The Impact of the Owens Bottle Machine Reconsidered. Labor 1 March 2008; 5 (1): 23–45. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/15476715-2007-054
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