In this book, Engels spends 21 months to survey the condition of the working class in England. He travels all around the important industrial sectors around the England and to evaluate the living, health, social and working condition of working class. Although the condition of working people might be varies by their occupations and locations, Engels argues that the general picture of working class people is the same.
In the living condition aspect, working people live in a miserable condition. Lacking of basic infrastructure of house, almost none of furniture they can afford, and too narrow space for too many people. Furthermore, over-crowded of housing increases the possibility of spreading disease and that will undermine the health of workers. Engels describes that even living in such kind of condition, working people still need to pay unreasonable rental fee to the owners. These owners are bourgeoisie and sometime they are the employers of working people. Engels argues that if workers live in the house which provided by their employer, the employer can not only exploit workers by raising rental fee but also can thread workers to accept unreasonable wages by kicking them out of their home.
For the health issue, Engels describes that the living and working condition should be responsible for the health problem. As I mention above, the living condition potentially increase the possibility and easiness for disease to spread. However, the working people encounter more severe and threaten situation in their working environment. Most of the workers start to work in their very early age. No matter what kind of job they have, generally speaking, they spend 12 or more than 12 hours on duty which can cause them to have poor health condition and over-loaded work also cause them to have abnormal body shape. According to Engels' description, lots of workers died before forty by asthma or other disease or wounded that caused by their works.
The working condition is not only causes the health issue but also social and family problems for workers. As Engels argues, after the improvement of machine and factory owners adapt more and more machines. On the one hand, this improvement increases the productivity of industry. On the other hand, these new machines compete with workers for their jobs, especially those male adult workers. These male adult workers lost their jobs. Meanwhile, factories still hire women and children. Engels argues that this situation will disturb the traditional division of labor between gender and deconstructed family structure. Women spend too long of time in factory makes them lack of ability and energy to handle the household works and take care of children. Too early to work cause children don't have chance to attend to school.
In social and working aspect, for example, miners who are working under the ground usually work in an almost naked condition to against humidity and hot working environment. Since the temperature is indifferent to gender, male and female workers are all working in this condition. Engels argues that this kind of condition can easily collapse the moral notion inside the working area.