John ruskin and the ethical foundations of Morris & company, 1861–96

Journal of Business Ethics 14 (3):181 - 194 (1995)
InUnto this Last, John Ruskin argued that Britain''s industrial society was morally degenerate and pernicious in that it drove the labouring class into cultural and material poverty. The thinking of the Political Economists, which supported the new liberal industrial order, was correspondingly flawed, because it lacked any credible moral element. Ruskin''s writings are in essence an appeal to the business leader to behave in a socially responsible, paternalistic fashion according to his own moral prescriptions. In this way, he believed that British society might be regenerated. This article examines the ways in William Morris sought to give practical expression to these ideas. There is no perfect correspondence between the business notions of John Ruskin and the practice of William Morris. Yet it is evident that Morris stuck to many of his mentor''s ideas with remarkable tenacity; and the operation of the Morris business, especially those aspects relating to design, craftsmanship, work organisation, working conditions, scale and the market, owed much to Ruskin.
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