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Man vs Machine: Luddism Then and Now


Since the economy of England relied heavily on the textile and clothing industry, there was always a demand for skilled workers. However, the introduction of steam looms did not require the presence of skilled workers. Therefore, manufacturers preferred to hire children and women rather than experienced men (Lindholdt, 1997). Luddists denied the role of machine attendants as they were not ready to face changes in the labor market. Moreover, they were inspired by uprisings in American colonies and the French revolution.

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In my opinion, luddists were not successful for several reasons. First of all, they were mainly guided by emotions, which led to aggressive behavior. This aggressive behavior was supported by the desire to break free from class society. As a result, they did not take any steps for a constructive dialogue with the owners of factories or governmental authorities. They could have formed unions of workers to demand educational programs to change or upgrade their skills for other roles. Large-scale industries and mechanization of production brought more opportunities for the development of different sectors.

Nowadays, there are similar economic and social impact factors. There are no economic domains or industries that do not experience the automatization or digitalization processes. Hence, people become more aware of the need for lifelong education. Also, the interconnectedness and co-evolution of various fields are more noticeable. For example, Information Technologies penetrated medicine and biology, which improved the quality of people’s life. At the same time, more people rise against new technologies as they disrupt their way of life and national economies. There were anti-uber protests in France, Croatia, Poland, Columbia, and India (Bartlett, 2018).

Economic and social trends increase competitiveness for markets and resources. Concerns for global warming and resource depletion make the future uncertain. Uncertainty pushes people back to a more traditional way of life when they start social businesses and grow their food. Environmental and social uprisings have already become a new reality, especially for young people. Communities are not afraid to demand more from governments and companies.


First of all, there should be more unity and joint action between the government, the corporate sector, and society. Raising awareness through education is a crucial element of the changing world. Secondly, more international collaboration is required to ensure the transparency of global markets and the diffusion of technologies. Technological progress is inevitable, but it can be tamed for the benefit of the planet and all living creatures.


Bartlett, J. (2018). Will 2018 be the year of the neo-luddite? The Guardian. Web.

Lindholdt, P. (1997). Luddism and its discontents. American Quarterly, 49(4), 866–873.

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