ACT Reading : Identifying and Analyzing Main Ideas in Social Science or History Passages

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for ACT Reading

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Example Questions

Example Question #31 : Identifying And Analyzing Main Ideas In Social Science Or History Passages

Adapted from A Modest Proposal by Jonathan Swift (1729)

It is a melancholy object to those who walk through this great town—or travel in the country—when they see the streets, roads, and cabin doors crowded with beggars of the female sex, followed by three, four, or six children, all in rags, and importuning every passenger for alms. These mothers, instead of being able to work for their honest livelihood, are forced to employ all their time in strolling to beg sustenance for their helpless infants who, as they grow up, either turn into thieves for want of work, or leave their dear native country to fight for the Pretender in Spain—or sell themselves to the Barbados.

I think it is agreed by all parties that this prodigious number of children in the arms, on the backs, or at the heels of their mothers—and frequently of their fathers—is in the present deplorable state of the kingdom, a very great additional grievance; and therefore whoever could find out a fair, cheap, and easy method of making these children sound and useful members of the commonwealth would deserve so well of the public as to have his statue set up for a preserver of the nation.

My intention is very far from being confined to provide only for the children of professed beggars: it is of a much greater extent, and shall take in the whole number of infants at a certain age, who are born of parents in effect as little able to support them as those who demand our charity in the streets.

As to my own part, having turned my thoughts for many years upon this important subject, and maturely weighed the several schemes of our projectors, I have always found them grossly mistaken in their computation. It is true that a child just dropped from its dam may be supported by her milk for a solar year, with little other nourishment: at most not above the value of two shillings, which the mother may certainly get, or the value in scraps by her lawful occupation of begging; and it is exactly at one year old that I propose to provide for them in such a manner as—instead of being a charge upon their parents, or the parish, or wanting food and raiment for the rest of their lives—they shall, on the contrary, contribute to the feeding, and partly to the clothing, of many thousands.

What kind of text is this?

Possible Answers:

A memoir

A novel

None of the other answers

An satrical essay

An epic

Correct answer:

An satrical essay

Explanation:

This is a satirical essay. 

Example Question #1 : Point Of View

Adapted from Confessions by Jean-Jacques Rousseau (trans. 1903)

I have entered upon a performance which is without example, whose accomplishment will have no imitator. I mean to present my fellow-mortals with a man in all the integrity of nature; and this man shall be myself.

I know my heart, and have studied mankind; I am not made like any one I have been acquainted with, perhaps like no one in existence; if not better, I at least claim originality, and whether Nature did wisely in breaking the mould with which she formed me, can only be determined after having read this work.

Whenever the last trumpet shall sound, I will present myself before the sovereign judge with this book in my hand, and loudly proclaim, thus have I acted; these were my thoughts; such was I. With equal freedom and veracity have I related what was laudable or wicked, I have concealed no crimes, added no virtues; and if I have sometimes introduced superfluous ornament, it was merely to occupy a void occasioned by defect of memory: I may have supposed that certain, which I only knew to be probable, but have never asserted as truth, a conscious falsehood. Such as I was, I have declared myself; sometimes vile and despicable, at others, virtuous, generous and sublime; even as thou hast read my inmost soul: Power eternal! assemble round thy throne an innumerable throng of my fellow-mortals, let them listen to my confessions, let them blush at my depravity, let them tremble at my sufferings; let each in his turn expose with equal sincerity the failings, the wanderings of his heart, and, if he dare, aver, I was better than that man.

I was born at Geneva, in 1712, son of Isaac Rousseau and Susannah Bernard, citizens. My father's share of a moderate competency, which was divided among fifteen children, being very trivial, his business of a watchmaker (in which he had the reputation of great ingenuity) was his only dependence. My mother's circumstances were more affluent; she was daughter of a Mons. Bernard, minister, and possessed a considerable share of modesty and beauty; indeed, my father found some difficulty in obtaining her hand.

Which narrative point of view is employed in this passage?

Possible Answers:

None of the other answers

First person

Second person

Third person

The passage switches between multiple points of view

Correct answer:

First person

Explanation:

The use of the word "I" throughout the passage tells us that it is written in first person.

Example Question #32 : Identifying And Analyzing Main Ideas In Social Science Or History Passages

Adapted from Confessions by Jean-Jacques Rousseau (trans. 1903)

I have entered upon a performance which is without example, whose accomplishment will have no imitator. I mean to present my fellow-mortals with a man in all the integrity of nature; and this man shall be myself.

I know my heart, and have studied mankind; I am not made like any one I have been acquainted with, perhaps like no one in existence; if not better, I at least claim originality, and whether Nature did wisely in breaking the mould with which she formed me, can only be determined after having read this work.

Whenever the last trumpet shall sound, I will present myself before the sovereign judge with this book in my hand, and loudly proclaim, thus have I acted; these were my thoughts; such was I. With equal freedom and veracity have I related what was laudable or wicked, I have concealed no crimes, added no virtues; and if I have sometimes introduced superfluous ornament, it was merely to occupy a void occasioned by defect of memory: I may have supposed that certain, which I only knew to be probable, but have never asserted as truth, a conscious falsehood. Such as I was, I have declared myself; sometimes vile and despicable, at others, virtuous, generous and sublime; even as thou hast read my inmost soul: Power eternal! assemble round thy throne an innumerable throng of my fellow-mortals, let them listen to my confessions, let them blush at my depravity, let them tremble at my sufferings; let each in his turn expose with equal sincerity the failings, the wanderings of his heart, and, if he dare, aver, I was better than that man.

I was born at Geneva, in 1712, son of Isaac Rousseau and Susannah Bernard, citizens. My father's share of a moderate competency, which was divided among fifteen children, being very trivial, his business of a watchmaker (in which he had the reputation of great ingenuity) was his only dependence. My mother's circumstances were more affluent; she was daughter of a Mons. Bernard, minister, and possessed a considerable share of modesty and beauty; indeed, my father found some difficulty in obtaining her hand.

Which of the following best describes the passage's overall tone?

Possible Answers:

Somber and reflective

None of the other answers

Sarcastic 

Grave

Comedic

Correct answer:

Somber and reflective

Explanation:

The tone of the passage is serious, but not overly depressing comedic; it is somewhere in between. Also, it is not sarcastic, so "somber and reflective" is the best answer choice.

Example Question #26 : Content Of Social Science / History Passages

Adapted from War from the Inside: The Story of the 132nd Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry in the War for the Suppression of the Rebellion, 1862-1863 by Col. Frederick L. Hitchcock (1903)

Never did day open more beautiful. We were astir at the first streak of dawn. We had slept, and soundly too, just where nightfall found us under the shelter of the hill near Keedysville. No reveille call this morning. Too close to the enemy. Nor was this needed to arouse us. A simple call of a sergeant or corporal and every man was instantly awake and alert. All realized that there was ugly business and plenty of it just ahead. This was plainly visible in the faces as well as in the nervous, subdued demeanour of all. The absence of all joking and play and the almost painful sobriety of action, where jollity had been the rule, was particularly noticeable.

Before proceeding with the events of the battle, I should speak of the "night before the battle," of which so much has been said and written. My diary says that Lieutenant-Colonel Wilcox, Captain James Archbald, Co. I, and I slept together, sharing our blankets; that it rained during the night; this fact, with the other, that we were close friends at home, accounts for our sharing blankets. Three of us with our gum blankets could so arrange as to keep fairly dry, notwithstanding the rain.

The camp was ominously still this night. We were not allowed to sing or make any noise, nor have any fires—except just enough to make coffee—for fear of attracting the fire of the enemies' batteries. But there was no need of such an inhibition as to singing or frolicking, for there was no disposition to indulge in either. Unquestionably, the problems of the morrow were occupying all breasts. Letters were written home—many of them "last words"—and quiet talks were had, and promises made between comrades. Promises providing against the dreaded possibilities of the morrow. "If the worst happens, Jack." "Yes, Ned, send word to mother and to——, and these; she will prize them," and so directions were interchanged that meant so much.

I can never forget the quiet words of Colonel Oakford, as he inquired very particularly if my roster of the officers and men of the regiment was complete, for, said he, with a smile, "We shall not all be here to-morrow night."

Now to resume the story of the battle. We were on the march about six o'clock and moved, as I thought, rather leisurely for upwards of two miles, crossing Antietam creek, which our men waded nearly waist deep, emerging, of course, soaked through, our first experience of this kind. It was a hot morning and, therefore, the only ill effects of this wading was the discomfort to the men of marching with soaked feet. It was now quite evident that a great battle was in progress. A deafening pandemonium of cannonading, with shrieking and bursting shells, filled the air beyond us, towards which we were marching. An occasional shell whizzed by or over, reminding us that we were rapidly approaching the "debatable ground." Soon we began to hear a most ominous sound which we had never before heard, except in the far distance at South Mountain, namely, the rattle of musketry. It had none of the deafening bluster of the cannonading so terrifying to new troops, but to those who had once experienced its effect, it was infinitely more to be dreaded. The fatalities by musketry at close quarters, as the two armies fought at Antietam and all through the Civil War, as compared with those by artillery, are at least as 100 to 1, probably much more than that.

These volleys of musketry we were approaching sounded in the distance like the rapid pouring of shot upon a tin pan, or the tearing of heavy canvas, with slight pauses interspersed with single shots, or desultory shooting. All this presaged fearful work in store for us, with what results to each personally the future, measured probably by moments, would reveal.

One of the main points made in the last paragraph is __________.

Possible Answers:

The sound of musket fire told them they were losing.

The sound of the musket fire told them what they were about to face. 

The sound of musket fire told them victory was at hand.

The sound of musket fire was awe inspiring.

The sound of musket was followed by the sound of canvas tearing.

Correct answer:

The sound of the musket fire told them what they were about to face. 

Explanation:

The author explains the sound of the musket fire and states at the end of the paragraph that “fearful work was in store for us.” They know that they are approaching the enemy soldiers and perhaps their deaths.

Example Question #33 : Identifying And Analyzing Main Ideas In Social Science Or History Passages

Adapted from Utopia by Thomas More (ed. 1762, trans. Burnet)

The time appointed for labor is to be narrowly examined, otherwise you may imagine, that since there are only six hours appointed for work, they may fall under a scarcity of necessary provisions. But it is so far from being true, that this time is not sufficient for supplying them with plenty of all things, either necessary or convenient, that it is rather too much; and this you will easily apprehend, if you consider how great a part of all other nations is quite idle. First, women generally do little, who are the half of mankind; and if some few women are diligent, their husbands are idle: then consider the great company of idle priests, and of those that are called religious men; add to these all rich men, chiefly those that have estates in land, who are called noblemen and gentlemen, together with their families, made up of idle persons, that are kept more for show than use; add to these, all those strong and lusty beggars, that go about pretending some disease, in excuse for their begging; and upon the whole account you will find that the number of those by whose labors mankind is supplied, is much less than you perhaps imagined. Then consider how few of those that work are employed in labors that are of real service; for we who measure all things by money, give rise to many trades that are both vain and superfluous, and serve only to support riot and luxury. For if those who work were employed only in such things as the conveniences of life require, there would be such an abundance of them that the prices of them would so sink that tradesmen could not be maintained by their gains; if all those who labor about useless things were set to more profitable employments, and if all they that languish out their lives in sloth and idleness, every one of whom consumes as much as any two of the men that are at work, were forced to labor, you may easily imagine that a small proportion of time would serve for doing all that is either necessary, profitable, or pleasant to mankind, especially while pleasure is kept within its due bounds.

This appears very plainly in Utopia, for there, in a great city, and in all the territory that lies round it, you can scarce find 500, either men or women, by their age and strength, are capable of labor, that are not engaged in it; even the syphogrants, though excused by the law, yet do not excuse themselves, but work, that by their examples they may excite the industry of the rest of the people. The like exemption is allowed to those who, being recommended to the people by the priests, are by the secret suffrages of the syphogrants privileged from labor, that they may apply themselves wholly to study; and if any of these fall short of those hopes that they seemed at first to give, they are obliged to return to work. And sometimes a mechanic, that so employs his leisure hours, as to make a considerable advancement in learning, is eased from being a tradesman, and ranked among their learned men. Out of these they choose their ambassadors, their priests, their tranibors, and the prince himself, anciently called their Barzenes, but is called of late their Ademus.

And thus from the great numbers among them that are neither suffered to be idle, nor to be employed in any fruitless labor, you may easily make the estimate how much may be done in those few hours in which they are obliged to labor. But besides all that has been already said, it is to be considered that the needful arts among them are managed with less labor than anywhere else. The building or the repairing of houses among us employ many hands, because often a thriftless heir suffers a house that his father built to fall into decay, so that his successor must, at a great cost, repair that which he might have kept up with a small charge: it frequently happens that the same house which one person built at a vast expense is neglected by another, who thinks he has a more delicate sense of the beauties of architecture; and he suffering it to fall to ruin, builds another at no less charge. But among the Utopians all things are so regulated that men very seldom build upon a new piece of ground; and are not only very quick in repairing their houses, but show their foresight in preventing their decay: so that their buildings are preserved very long, with but little labor, and thus the builders to whom that care belongs are often without employment, except the hewing of timber and the squaring of stones, that the materials may be in readiness for raising a building very suddenly when there is any occasion for it.

Based on the passage, the primary purpose for labor in Utopia is to __________.

Possible Answers:

create items for trade and tribute

create beautiful, though unnecessary, objects

keep the citizens occupied

produce only essentials

provide free time for elected officials

Correct answer:

produce only essentials

Explanation:

Utopian labor differs from that of the rest of the world in that everyone who is able participates in it, unless exempted by law. They work to produce the things needed by the society and, unlike other societies, they do not work to produce anything that is nonessential. When the narrator makes a comparison in the first paragraph, he says, “for if those who work were employed only in such things as the conveniences of life require,” and this suggests that Utopian society operates in this manner.

Example Question #34 : Identifying And Analyzing Main Ideas In Social Science Or History Passages

Adapted from Utopia (1516) by Thomas More

The time appointed for labor is to be narrowly examined, otherwise you may imagine, that since there are only six hours appointed for work, they may fall under a scarcity of necessary provisions. But it is so far from being true, that this time is not sufficient for supplying them with plenty of all things, either necessary or convenient, that it is rather too much; and this you will easily apprehend, if you consider how great a part of all other nations is quite idle. First, women generally do little, who are the half of mankind; and if some few women are diligent, their husbands are idle: then consider the great company of idle priests, and of those that are called religious men; add to these all rich men, chiefly those that have estates in land, who are called noblemen and gentlemen, together with their families, made up of idle persons, that are kept more for show than use; add to these, all those strong and lusty beggars, that go about pretending some disease, in excuse for their begging; and upon the whole account you will find that the number of those by whose labors mankind is supplied, is much less than you perhaps imagined. Then consider how few of those that work are employed in labors that are of real service; for we who measure all things by money, give rise to many trades that are both vain and superfluous, and serve only to support riot and luxury. For if those who work were employed only in such things as the conveniences of life require, there would be such an abundance of them that the prices of them would so sink that tradesmen could not be maintained by their gains; if all those who labor about useless things were set to more profitable employments, and if all they that languish out their lives in sloth and idleness, every one of whom consumes as much as any two of the men that are at work, were forced to labor, you may easily imagine that a small proportion of time would serve for doing all that is either necessary, profitable, or pleasant to mankind, especially while pleasure is kept within its due bounds.

This appears very plainly in Utopia, for there, in a great city, and in all the territory that lies round it, you can scarce find 500, either men or women, by their age and strength, are capable of labor, that are not engaged in it; even the syphogrants, though excused by the law, yet do not excuse themselves, but work, that by their examples they may excite the industry of the rest of the people. The like exemption is allowed to those who, being recommended to the people by the priests, are by the secret suffrages of the syphogrants privileged from labor, that they may apply themselves wholly to study; and if any of these fall short of those hopes that they seemed at first to give, they are obliged to return to work. And sometimes a mechanic, that so employs his leisure hours, as to make a considerable advancement in learning, is eased from being a tradesman, and ranked among their learned men. Out of these they choose their ambassadors, their priests, their tranibors, and the prince himself, anciently called their Barzenes, but is called of late their Ademus.

And thus from the great numbers among them that are neither suffered to be idle, nor to be employed in any fruitless labor, you may easily make the estimate how much may be done in those few hours in which they are obliged to labor. But besides all that has been already said, it is to be considered that the needful arts among them are managed with less labor than anywhere else. The building or the repairing of houses among us employ many hands, because often a thriftless heir suffers a house that his father built to fall into decay, so that his successor must, at a great cost, repair that which he might have kept up with a small charge: it frequently happens that the same house which one person built at a vast expense is neglected by another, who thinks he has a more delicate sense of the beauties of architecture; and he suffering it to fall to ruin, builds another at no less charge. But among the Utopians all things are so regulated that men very seldom build upon a new piece of ground; and are not only very quick in repairing their houses, but show their foresight in preventing their decay: so that their buildings are preserved very long, with but little labor, and thus the builders to whom that care belongs are often without employment, except the hewing of timber and the squaring of stones, that the materials may be in readiness for raising a building very suddenly when there is any occasion for it.

Which of the following best describes the topics the passage intends to discuss, as stated by the narrator in the first paragraph?

Possible Answers:

A criticism of how society has progressed in the rest of the world

An explanation of social interaction between citizens and their superiors in Utopia

A description of labor in Utopia to illustrate how it is flawed

An explanation of how the Utopian society is able to sustain itself with minimal time given to labor

A description of the Utopian labor system to illustrate the failings of the contemporary world

Correct answer:

An explanation of how the Utopian society is able to sustain itself with minimal time given to labor

Explanation:

The start of the passage begins, “The time appointed for labor is to be narrowly examined, otherwise you may imagine, that since there are only six hours appointed for work, they may fall under a scarcity of necessary provisions.” This outlines the passage's intentions. There are no explanations of specific “work methods” and the narrator does not suggest in the passage that labor system in Utopia is flawed. Whilst the passage does explain some social interaction in Utopia and equally criticizes society in the rest of the world, these are never expressed as its intentions.

Example Question #31 : Identifying And Analyzing Main Ideas In Social Science Or History Passages

Adapted from A Vindication of the Rights of Woman by Mary Wollstonecraft (1792)

In the middle rank of life, to continue the comparison, men, in their youth, are prepared for professions, and marriage is not considered as the grand feature in their lives; whilst women, on the contrary, have no other scheme to sharpen their faculties. It is not business, extensive plans, or any of the excursive flights of ambition, that engross their attention; no, their thoughts are not employed in rearing such noble structures. To rise in the world, and have the liberty of running from pleasure to pleasure, they must marry advantageously, and to this object their time is sacrificed, and their persons often legally prostituted. A man when he enters any profession has his eye steadily fixed on some future advantage (and the mind gains great strength by having all its efforts directed to one point) and, full of his business, pleasure is considered as mere relaxation; whilst women seek for pleasure as the main purpose of existence. In fact, from the education, which they receive from society, the love of pleasure may be said to govern them all; but does this prove that there is a sex in souls? It would be just as rational to declare that the courtiers in France, when a destructive system of despotism had formed their character, were not men, because liberty, virtue, and humanity, were sacrificed to pleasure and vanity.—Fatal passions, which have ever domineered over the whole race!

The same love of pleasure, fostered by the whole tendency of their education, gives a trifling turn to the conduct of women in most circumstances: for instance, they are ever anxious about secondary things; and on the watch for adventures, instead of being occupied by duties.

A man, when he undertakes a journey, has, in general, the end in view; a woman thinks more of the incidental occurrences, the strange things that may possibly occur on the road; the impression that she may make on her fellow travelers; and, above all, she is anxiously intent on the care of the finery that she carries with her, which is more than ever a part of herself, when going to figure on a new scene; when, to use an apt French turn of expression, she is going to produce a sensation.—Can dignity of mind exist with such trivial cares? This observation should not be confined to the fair sex; however, at present, I only mean to apply it to them.

Which of the following sentences best summarizes the second paragraph?

Possible Answers:

Women are more adventurous than men.

Women are easily worried by the finer details of their pursuits.

Women's education causes them to be lackadaisical.

Women are encouraged to be entertained by trivial things by their education.

Women are constantly preoccupied with more than one thing.

Correct answer:

Women are encouraged to be entertained by trivial things by their education.

Explanation:

The paragraph explains that women's love of pleasure is derived from their education. Their conduct has a “trifling turn” and they are easily distracted by trivial “pleasures” rather than more practical “duties.” “Lackadaisical” is a word that implies lethargy rather than the frame of mind the author suggests. The key points are that the author is suggesting that women are encouraged by society to be distracted by trivial things through the medium of their education.

Example Question #27 : Content Of Social Science / History Passages

Adapted from War from the Inside: The Story of the 132nd Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry in the War for the Suppression of the Rebellion, 1862-1863 by Col. Frederick L. Hitchcock (1903)

Never did day open more beautiful. We were astir at the first streak of dawn. We had slept, and soundly too, just where nightfall found us under the shelter of the hill near Keedysville. No reveille call this morning. Too close to the enemy. Nor was this needed to arouse us. A simple call of a sergeant or corporal and every man was instantly awake and alert. All realized that there was ugly business and plenty of it just ahead. This was plainly visible in the faces as well as in the nervous, subdued demeanor of all. The absence of all joking and play and the almost painful sobriety of action, where jollity had been the rule, was particularly noticeable.

Before proceeding with the events of the battle, I should speak of the "night before the battle," of which so much has been said and written. My diary says that Lieutenant-Colonel Wilcox, Captain James Archbald, Co. I, and I slept together, sharing our blankets; that it rained during the night; this fact, with the other, that we were close friends at home, accounts for our sharing blankets. Three of us with our gum blankets could so arrange as to keep fairly dry, notwithstanding the rain.

The camp was ominously still this night. We were not allowed to sing or make any noise, nor have any fires—except just enough to make coffee—for fear of attracting the fire of the enemies' batteries. But there was no need of such an inhibition as to singing or frolicking, for there was no disposition to indulge in either. Unquestionably, the problems of the morrow were occupying all breasts. Letters were written home—many of them "last words"—and quiet talks were had, and promises made between comrades. Promises providing against the dreaded possibilities of the morrow. "If the worst happens, Jack." "Yes, Ned, send word to mother and to——, and these; she will prize them," and so directions were interchanged that meant so much.

I can never forget the quiet words of Colonel Oakford, as he inquired very particularly if my roster of the officers and men of the regiment was complete, for, said he, with a smile, "We shall not all be here to-morrow night."

Now to resume the story of the battle. We were on the march about six o'clock and moved, as I thought, rather leisurely for upwards of two miles, crossing Antietam creek, which our men waded nearly waist deep, emerging, of course, soaked through, our first experience of this kind. It was a hot morning and, therefore, the only ill effects of this wading was the discomfort to the men of marching with soaked feet. It was now quite evident that a great battle was in progress. A deafening pandemonium of cannonading, with shrieking and bursting shells, filled the air beyond us, towards which we were marching. An occasional shell whizzed by or over, reminding us that we were rapidly approaching the "debatable ground." Soon we began to hear a most ominous sound which we had never before heard, except in the far distance at South Mountain, namely, the rattle of musketry. It had none of the deafening bluster of the cannonading so terrifying to new troops, but to those who had once experienced its effect, it was infinitely more to be dreaded. The fatalities by musketry at close quarters, as the two armies fought at Antietam and all through the Civil War, as compared with those by artillery, are at least as 100 to 1, probably much more than that.

These volleys of musketry we were approaching sounded in the distance like the rapid pouring of shot upon a tin pan, or the tearing of heavy canvas, with slight pauses interspersed with single shots, or desultory shooting. All this presaged fearful work in store for us, with what results to each personally the future, measured probably by moments, would reveal.

What is the main idea of the second paragraph?

Possible Answers:

The author cannot remember the night preceding the battle.

The author feels that he needs to discuss the weather they experienced on the night before the battle.

The author thinks he should talk about the night preceding the battle, so he refers to his diary. 

The author wants to mention his comrades.

The author wishes to remember his fallen comrades.

Correct answer:

The author thinks he should talk about the night preceding the battle, so he refers to his diary. 

Explanation:

The author is conscious that he should talk about the “night before the battle” as “ so much has been said and written” about it already by others. He refers to the details in his diary, probably to make it more factual and less descriptive or fanciful.

Example Question #1 : Content Of Social Science / History Passages

Adapted from The Condition of the Working-Class in England in 1844 by Friedrich Engels (ed. 1892, trans. Wischnewetzky)

The order of our investigation of the different sections of the proletariat follows naturally from the foregoing history of its rise. The first proletarians were connected with manufacture, were engendered by it, and accordingly, those employed in manufacture, in the working up of raw materials, will first claim our attention. The production of raw materials and of fuel for manufacture attained importance only in consequence of the industrial change, and engendered a new proletariat, the coal and metal miners. Then, in the third place, manufacture influenced agriculture, and in the fourth, the condition of Ireland; and the fractions of the proletariat belonging to each, will find their place accordingly. We shall find, too, that the factory hands are most enlightened as to their own interests, the miners somewhat less so, the agricultural laborers scarcely at all. We shall find the same order again among the industrial workers, and shall see how the factory hands, eldest children of the industrial revolution, have from the beginning to the present day formed the nucleus of the Labour Movement, and how the others have joined this movement just in proportion as their handicraft has been invaded by the progress of machinery. We shall thus learn from the example which England offers, from the equal pace which the Labour Movement has kept with the movement of industrial development, the historical significance of manufacture.

Since, however, at the present moment, pretty much the whole industrial proletariat is involved in the movement, and the condition of the separate sections has much in common, because they all are industrial, we shall have first to examine the condition of the industrial proletariat as a whole, in order later to notice more particularly each separate division with its own peculiarities.

It has been already suggested that manufacture centralizes property in the hands of the few. It requires large capital with which to erect the colossal establishments that ruin the petty trading bourgeoisie and with which to press into its service the forces of Nature, so driving the hand labour of the independent workman out of the market. The division of labour, the application of water and especially steam, and the application of machinery, are the three great levers with which manufacture, since the middle of the last century, has been busy putting the world out of joint. Manufacture, on a small scale, created the middle-class; on a large scale, it created the working-class, and raised the elect of the middle-class to the throne, but only to overthrow them the more surely when the time comes. Meanwhile, it is an undeniable and easily explained fact that the numerous, petty middle-class of the “good old times” has been annihilated by manufacture, and resolved into rich capitalists on the one hand and poor workers on the other.

The centralizing tendency of manufacture does not, however, stop here. Population becomes centralized just as capital does; and, very naturally, since the human being, the worker, is regarded in manufacture simply as a piece of capital for the use of which the manufacturer pays interest under the name of wages. A manufacturing establishment requires many workers employed together in a single building, living near each other and forming a village of themselves in the case of a good-sized factory. They have needs for satisfying which other people are necessary; handicraftsmen, shoemakers, tailors, bakers, carpenters, stonemasons, settle at hand. The inhabitants of the village, especially the younger generation, accustom themselves to factory work, grow skillful in it, and when the first mill can no longer employ them all, wages fall, and the immigration of fresh manufacturers is the consequence. So the village grows into a small town, and the small town into a large one. The greater the town, the greater its advantages. It offers roads, railroads, canals; the choice of skilled labour increases constantly, new establishments can be built more cheaply because of the competition among builders and machinists who are at hand, than in remote country districts, whither timber, machinery, builders, and operatives must be brought; it offers a market to which buyers crowd, and direct communication with the markets supplying raw material or demanding finished goods. Hence the marvelously rapid growth of the great manufacturing towns. The country, on the other hand, has the advantage that wages are usually lower than in town, and so town and country are in constant competition; and, if the advantage is on the side of the town to-day, wages sink so low in the country to-morrow, that new investments are most profitably made there. But the centralizing tendency of manufacture continues in full force, and every new factory built in the country bears in it the germ of a manufacturing town. If it were possible for this mad rush of manufacture to go on at this rate for another century, every manufacturing district of England would be one great manufacturing town, and Manchester and Liverpool would meet at Warrington or Newton; for in commerce, too, this centralization of the population works in precisely the same way, and hence it is that one or two great harbors, such as Hull and Liverpool, Bristol, and London, monopolize almost the whole maritime commerce of Great Britain.

From the whole of this passage, it can be inferred that the “centralizing tendency of manufacture” culminates in __________.

Possible Answers:

an affluent agricultural proletariat

a disgruntled workforce

the development of manufacturing towns

numerous health problems within the populace

massive debt

Correct answer:

the development of manufacturing towns

Explanation:

In the last paragraph, the author discusses “the marvelously rapid growth of the great manufacturing towns.” This rapid growth is attributed twice in the paragraph to the “centralizing tendency,” the second time with the author stating, “the centralizing tendency of manufacture continues in full force, and every new factory built in the country bears in it the germ of a manufacturing town.” This supports the answer fully.

Example Question #3 : Content Of Social Science / History Passages

"Goffman's Theory of Institutions" by Joseph Ritchie (2014)

Sociological inquiry often investigates members of society considered to be on its outer edges. These individuals often live in precarious and vulnerable situations. Traditionally, sociologists have studied these groups to gain insight into the lives of people who are forgotten victims of the blind eye of society. In 1961, Erving Goffman published the book Asylums: Essays on the Social Situation of Mental Patients and Other Inmates. This book outlined the theory of a total institution as seen in prisons and asylums. Goffman’s interests and theory helped to reveal the inner mechanics of asylums and the process of institutionalization that takes place within a total institution.

According to Goffman’s observations and subsequent theories, a total institution seeks to erode the relationships of an individual with the outside world and consume their personal identities and daily activities. The end goal of a total institution is to break down and deconstruct the barriers that separate the spheres of sleep, play, and work in an individual’s life by conducting all of these aspects of life in the same location under the same authority. In these institutions, Goffman stated that there is an intentional divide between a large, managed group and a supervisor, which often results in feelings of submissiveness and reluctance to leave the institutionalized setting on the part of the “inmates.” This suggests that these restrictive environments lead to the institutionalization of an individual into the group and away from his or her previous, independent life. In these structures, an individual’s admission procedures shape and engineer the new member in what may be described as a process of programming. This programming of an individual is characterized by a “leaving off” of one’s identity and a “taking on” of one supplied by the establishment. Members of these establishments are alienated from their previous lives and encircled by the ideals and principals of the new institution. A prolonged exposure to similar institutions results in a phenomenon known as "disculturation," which is an un-training that renders an individual temporarily incapable of managing certain features of daily life outside the structures of the institutions.

Sociologists often study groups forgotten or ignored by society. Goffman’s work illuminated issues with vulnerable populations at asylums and other institutions. Ethnographic field studies have continued this tradition and in doing so have theorized the causes of many of society’s ills. Goffman’s work is just one example of sociology’s ability to delve into an understudied region of society, propose explanations of issues, and theorize possible avenues of reform.

What part(s) of an individual's life did Goffman theorize a total institution sought to combine?

Possible Answers:

Play, work, and sleep

Work and sleep

Goffman theorized that instutitions only dealt with work.

Play and work

Correct answer:

Play, work, and sleep

Explanation:

In the second paragraph of the passage, it is stated that these instituitions seek to deconstruct the barriers that separate the spheres of sleep, play, and work in an individual's life. When the institution deconstructs these barriers, the institution combines the activities into a single part or sphere of personal existence.

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