Search results

You are looking at 1 - 4 of 4 items for :

  • "factory paternalism" x
  • Refine by access: All content x
Clear All
Abstract only
Lord Leverhulme, soap and civilization
Author: Brian Lewis

This book is an unorthodox biography of William Hesketh Lever, 1st Lord Leverhulme (1851-1925), the founder of the Lever Brothers' Sunlight Soap empire. The most frequently recurring comparison during his life and at his death, however, was with Napoleon. What the author finds most fascinating about him is that he unites within one person so many intriguing developments of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The book first sketches out his life, the rise and triumph of his business, and explores his homes, his gardens and his collections. It contains essays on Lever in the context of the history of advertising, of factory paternalism, town planning, the Garden City movement and their ramifications across the twentieth century, and of colonial encounters. Lever had worked hard at opening agencies and selling his soap abroad since 1888. But if import drives proved unsatisfactory, logic dictated that soap should be manufactured and sold locally, both to reduce the price by vaulting tariff barriers on imports and to cater for idiosyncratic local tastes. As D. K. Fieldhouse points out, Lever Brothers was one of the first generation of capitalist concerns to manufacture in a number of countries. The company opened or started building factories in America, Switzerland, Canada, Australia and Germany in the late 1890s. It then spread to most western European countries and the other white settler colonies of the empire, as well as more tentatively to Asia and Africa.

Brian Lewis

industrial, urban Britain. The village ranks as probably the most impressive experiment in factory paternalism ever mounted in Britain, the culmination of a ferment of experimentation over the preceding decades. Paternalism is not dead, of course. Major corporations still invest considerable sums in attempting to improve staff morale through a variety of incentive and reward schemes and the inculcation of a feeling of one big happy family. But wholehearted, full-bloodied paternalism had its final flourish in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. This variety

in ‘So clean’
Brian Lewis

his business, and explores his homes, his gardens and his collections. Chapters two to four contain essays on Lever in the context of the history of advertising (chapter two), of factory paternalism and town planning (chapter three) and of colonial encounters (chapter four). The concluding chapter resumes something of the narrative and summary format and looks at Lever’s extraordinary activity in his final years. William, Mr Lever, Sir William, Lord Leverhulme of Bolton le Moors, Viscount Leverhulme of the Western Isles, the Chairman, the Chief, the Founder, the Old

in ‘So clean’
Abstract only
Brian Lewis

many respects, living a tremendously energetic life, but he was not somehow ‘ahead of his time’ (whatever such a logical impossibility may mean). To the contrary, he was deeply embedded in his time, sharing many of its mannerisms, characteristics and prejudices, bounded by its restrictions, permissions and possibilities. As a social historian I have used Lever’s life as an entry-point for discussion of a raft of topics as diverse as the ‘second consumer revolution’, the transition to a corporate economy, the development of advertising, factory paternalism, town

in ‘So clean’