Social Conflicts Between Upper Class And Lower Class As A Result Of Industrialization Found In Jack London’s Short Story “South Of The Slot” (P-110)


1.1 Background of the Study

People live in a society. They interact each other and actually cannot live alone without their neighbors. Society is very complex because there are many people with different background. James Mc Knee in Introduction in Sociology (1969:124) defines people in social group are conscious of belonging together in common membership, and a group possesion some mechanism to determine who belongs and who doesnot. Talking about modern society means talking about the history of class struggles. Karl Marx looked upon society as composed of the haves and havenots, oppressor and oppressed. Karl Marx in Communist Manifesto assumes:

The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles. Freeman and slaves, patrician and plebeian, lord and serf, guildmaster and journeyman, in a word, oppressor and oppressed, stood in a constant position to one another, carried on an uninterrupted, now hidden, now open fight, a fight that each time ended, either in an revolutionary reconstruction of society at large, or in the common ruin of the struggling class.(1963:58)
Society as a whole is oversimplified by dividing it into two classes, bourgeois and proletariat. T.B Bottomore in Classes in Modern Society says:

By bourgeois is means the people in the class of modern capitalist, owners of the means of production, and employers of wage labors. It formerly was a term of middle class in Romantic Age. Businessman from textile magnates, shopkeepers, doctors, lawyers, teachers, and other educated and professional people, all the groups that were called “white-collar workers” are part of bourgeois. They change raw material and capital into industrial production, and shapes divisions of labors. They can optimally make use of the rapid movements of all instruments of production, the immense facilitated means of production. Even they control the means of state such as courts, the administration, military force, and the agencies of intellectual persuasion. (1966:77)

Prosperity is something wished by all countries in all over the world. It is such a great expectation to them. It is also the one which makes the countries dynamic. Lenski Lauer in Industry’s democratic (1984:411) describes industrialization is economic development through transformation of resourches, and the quality of applied energy.

It characterizes modern country as both industrialization and modernization give tremendous influences upon economic progress of the country. According to V.W Rostow in Britannica (v.24:283):
The application of modern technology to the whole economic sector is expected to create new economic sectors replacing the old ones, for example, mining, and shipping industry which have replacing agricultural domination, and become pillars of economic development.

Meanwhile, industrialization which is conducted by all countries is aimed to create prosperity for human beings. Based on Britannica (v.24:283) industrialization is said to occur in a given country when real incomes per head begin to rise steadily and without apparent limit.

Industry is related to many aspects in the society. They are aspects of economy, education, social stratification, and the community. S.R Parker in The Sociology of Industry (1966:65) asserts industry, in the broad sense of technology economic enterprises and persons associated with these, has pervasive effects on the communities it selves and from which it draw its resources.

United States was increasingly industrialized in nineteenth century. Industrial Revolution which occurred in the beginning of 19thcentury was the starting point of United States to be the modern country. Based on Americanna (v.24:280):

There was a process of changes from an agrarian, handicraft economy to the one dominated by industry and machine manufacture. Such condition was indicated by industrial development including the appearance of new inventions and technological innovations applied in factories on large scale, the movement from lands into cities, massing of workers in new industrial town and factories, and the new distinctions between family life and work life.

In other words, there were mechanization of manufacturing and other processes carried out by factories. Furthermore, Industrial Revolution influenced education and military. The Cultural Library (v.7:203) gives definition:

In education, more practical subject were taught. Industry and business wanted science, Mathematics, and accounting. Foreign traders wanted foreign languages, etc. In military, it affected upon military preparedness such as training and equipping of fast armies, navies, and air forces programs, as those were impossible before Revolution Industry.

The Result was dramatic increase of per capita income that positioned United States as one of powerful countries at that time. Mc Knee in Introduction to Sociology asserts:

Government regulation of various forms of economic activity is now well- established, but its significance lies in two spheres. One of these is the development of a vast welfare program that mitigates the impersonal effects on the market on those subject to low income and unemployment, and offers s basic line of social security for all. The other is the regulation of money, credit, and investment by various measures in order to limit the once more radical swings of the business cycle.(1969:433)

The conditions were compounded as a whole of new image of social system and way of life of United States. Mc Knee in Introduction to Sociology defines :
Americans have not readily recognized the importance of social class in industrial society, or at least in America and they have often been unwilling to admit that America even has a class structure. The fluid, open and free character of American Society is presumably validated by the lack of clearly developed social classes.(1969:69)

On the other hand, Industrialization apparently caused a social problems, especially for proletariat, that stated by K. Dahrendorf in Class and Class Conflict in Industrial Society :
Proletariat is the subordinate class in industrial and engaged in industrial production. They are including wage workers, agricultural laborers, who usually live in poverty and depression.(1959:60)

Because of its subordinate position in society, laborers in 19th century of United States suffered from very poor condition. Mc Knee in Introduction in Sociology assumes:
The poor and the lower class constitute those people who are located at the lowest level of the class structure , who have the lowest incomes, the poorest paying jobs, and who experience the most economic insecurity. Whatever may be their attributes as people , the sociologist is compilled to recognize that they are a distinctive social stratum, a different segment of modern social structure.(1969:342)

Industrialization creates culture shock, it occurs because the people have not been ready yet to face the new phenomena about the industrialization process. Urbanization and crimes were creating new tensions in society. Based on Britannica (v.24:283):
Work was done by machine rather than handicraft. As consequences, it created unemployment as there was replacement of human and animal power by inanimate sources of energy.

Social conflict is one of social phenomenon that happens in the society. It is often assumed as a negative thing in a society because it can break relationship in a society. They will find any difficulties to make relationship in a society. They will find any difficulties to work together.This phenomenon is very interesting to be analyzed. In this case, I found social conflicts reflected in a literary work, that is in short story entitled “South of the Slot” by Jack London.

In this final project, I will choose “South of the Slot” as one kind of literary text to be analyzed. The social conflicts around 1906 in United States is implied in the story. Furthermore, literature is part of my major. As a student of English Department who takes study to get bachelor degree, I attempt to conduct a research focusing on social conflicts found in Jack London’s short story “South of the Slot” by using sociological approach.
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