In the mid-nineteenth century, Britain was the heartland of the industrialised world and it was here that a reaction first began to the way in which society was being industrialised. Historians, such as Thomas Carlyle, the politician William Cobbet and writers such as William Blake, began to voice their concern that a damaging split was developing between the human heart with its need to develop in understanding and freedom of conscience and the demands of the new industrial system that required men and women to work as unskilled factory hands with little responsibility for the work they did. Men are becoming mechanical in heart and mind Carlyle complained.
This reaction also stimulated the development of the British Arts and Crafts movement. This was an attempt to bring the whole human being back into the workplace, allowing the maker of a product to affect its design and manufacture and to take responsibility for the quality of the product they made. It necessitated smaller units of production and less division of labour, and it meant carefully selecting the kind of technology that would enable this way of life.