Robert Owen

Robert Owen (1771 – 1858) was a textile manufacturer, philanthropic social reformer, and one of the founders of utopian socialism and the cooperative movement.  Owen is best known for his efforts to improve the working conditions of his factory workers and his promotion of experimental socialistic communities.  In the early 1800s Owen became wealthy as an investor and eventual manager of a large textile mill at New Lanark, Scotland. In addition to his leadership in the development of cooperatives and the trade union movement, he also supported passage of child labour laws and free, co-educational schools. Owen raised the demand for an eight-hour day in 1810, and in 1817 he had formulated the goal of the eight-hour workday and coined the slogan: “Eight hours labour, Eight hours recreation, Eight hours rest.”


  • A New View of Society: Or, Essays on the Formation of Human Character, and the Application of the Principle to Practice (London, 1813)
  • A New View of Society: Or, Essays on the Formation of Human Character Preparatory to the Development of a Plan for Gradually Ameliorating the Condition of Mankind, for second edition, 1816
  • Observations on the Effect of the Manufacturing System. (London, 1815)
  • Report to the Committee of the Association for the Relief of the Manufacturing and Labouring Poor (1817)
  • Two Memorials on Behalf of the Working Classes (London: Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, and Brown
  • An Address to the Master Manufacturers of Great Britain: On the Present Existing Evils in the Manufacturing System (Bolton, 1819)
  • Report to the County of Lanark of a Plan for relieving Public Distress (Glasgow: Glasgow University Press, 1821)
  • An Explanation of the Cause of Distress which pervades the civilised parts of the world (London and Paris, 1823)
  • An Address to All Classes in the State (London, 1832)
  • The Revolution in the Mind and Practice of the Human Race (London, 1849)

Collected works:

  • A New View of Society and Other Writings, G. Claeys, ed. (London and New York: Penguin Books, 1991)
  • The Selected Works of Robert Owen, G. Claeys, ed., 4 vols. (London: Pickering and Chatto, 1993)

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