Industrial revolution describes the period between 1750 and 1850, in which tremendous changes characterized by developments in textile, iron were realized. The revolution was spearheaded by Britain. Modern historians refer to these changes as the first industrial revolution (Clark, 2007). The second revolution was characterized by steel, electronics and automobiles and was spearheaded by Germany (Clark, 2007). The Industrial Revolution was a period filled with drastic social and economic changes. The transformation between hand-made tools and goods to machine-manufactured products changed not only the economy, but also the lives of the workers. The first changes began in Great Britain in the 1780’s and spread across Europe and North America by the 19th century leaving a profound effect on the entire world. The Industrial Revolution effected every aspect of human society including the nature of work, child labor, and health conditions of the workers.
Agriculture was a dominant job for workers before the Industrial Revolution. Sebastian Le Prestre Vauban listed many typical jobs including “…mowing, harvesting, threshing, woodcutting, working the soil and the vineyards, clearing land, ditching, carrying soil to vineyards or elsewhere, laboring for builders and several other tasks…” (Wiesner 152) in his tax-reform proposal. This document shows that life as farmer consisted of purely manual labor. Although these jobs were arduous and demanding, the typical agricultural worker was only employed for half the year according to Vauban. Agriculture was a task-based working system where the work was completed according to a completing a task by a certain deadline. As long as the tasks were completed on time, the hours spent working were not tightly regimented. With the dawn of the Industrial Revolution, workers moved from the fields to the factories.
The Industrial Revolution had a great impact on the human’s rights and conditions and it also resulted in significant technological advancements, but it can be categorically stated that the technological advancements during the Industrial Revolution were paramount when compared to the revolution’s impact upon human rights and conditions. Agriculture was the main-stay for livelihood before the era of Industrial Revolution. Most of the people owned farmlands and workers were employed to work in the farms. Although Industrial revolution brought about significant economic development throughout Europe, there were also considerable social and cultural changes seen as well (Snooks, 2002). Industrial revolution had a tremendous transformation on the middle class, which initially was comprised of industrialists and businessmen to another class of noble and gentry people. There were increased employment opportunities for the ordinary working people in the industries, but under strict working conditions. There work was monitored and controlled by machines hence long hours of work (Clark, 2007).
Industrial revolution led to the introduction of urbanization since many people relocated to the cities to look for employment in factories; such as the water power silk mill and the cotton spinning mill. This was characterized by dense, cramped housing and poor living conditions. There was the introduction of new laws guarding child labor, public health and working condition for the ordinary workers to avoid exploitation of the minority (Snooks, 2002). As much as there were positive effects of the industrial revolution such as urbanization, there was also a negative impact on industrial revolution that comprised of people who were anti technologists such as the luddites (Clark, 2007). There was a change in culture since new cities grew rapidly, affecting families and peer groups. For instance, there was an influence in drugs by peer groups and the following: Economic Changes
During the first industrial revolution, there was an unprecedented economic transformation; there was a tremendous increase in population growth that was sustained. This led to considerable expansions of commercial activities in Europe (Snooks, 2002). Steam power was invented that was used to provide power in the factories, used for mining, and transport. It replaced human labor and introduced machines that could do mining in depth, increase production in the industries, and fast means of transport to the markets. The textile industry was changed by new machines the spinning Jenny allowing for much higher production at lower costs and in less time (Jacob, 1997). Thanks to the industrial revolution that brought about, better transport system such as the canals and then the railway. These provided quick, better means of transporting raw materials from the mines and also finished products to the market. Trade expansion was enabled. There was also much development in metal and chemical industries due to the industrial revolution that provided better working conditions for its workers (Clark, 2007). Development of all-metal machine tools enabled the manufacture of more production machines for industries. These spread all over Western Europe and North America then to the rest of the world. The industrial revolution facilitated the manufacture of more production machines.
Causes of Industrial revolution
Industrial revolution came about due to several inventions and the scientific revolution allowing for new discoveries such as technology. Resources required for the industrial revolutions were readily available hence boost industrialization to occur. There was a culture of hard work, developing ideas and risk taking that initiated for the industrial revolution in Europe. Availability of large amount of capital that Europe was ready to use for investment also led to the industrial revolution (Clark, 2007). There was the end of feudalism that changed the economic relationship among the Europe continent, this encouraged industrial revolution. A large population that allowed for industrial workforce was available.
As much as Western Europe tried to do away with capitalism, industrial revolution contributed to the creation of a true capitalist system. There was wide spread of investments, stock markets, and business corporations. Britain was the main advocator for the industrial revolution due to the agricultural revolution. The British kings lost power and the land holders gained power (Clark, 2007). There is no doubt that the Industrial Revolution was one of the most influential time periods of human history. It was almost solely responsible for propelling society into the modern economies that we still have in place today. The technological advances of this time are what allowed for the mass production of goods and services for society, which allowed for trade to be conducted on a much larger scale. Additionally, the average family saw in increase in the amount of income that they received because an unskilled worker could find work in one of the many new factories that were opened to produce the goods needed for the business
world. Unfortunately the workers of the time were usually taken advantage of because of their apparent lack of skill and the abundance of workers available for the same jobs. This created a work environment especially negative for women who would be treated unfairly in the workplace and would receive less pay for the work that they did. Prompted by the oppression that many in the working class felt, literary works were put out to inspire the workers to take back their freedoms. Karl Marx advocated for a revolution of the working class over the management that held them back. Bakunin advocated for the overthrow of the government to get society to a natural state of harmony, and the Pope pushed for a united workers front where the government protected its citizens from being oppressed in the workplace. Over the course of the Industrial Revolution the worker saw vast changes, which ultimately lead to the economic times we have now that are improved from the days of the past.
Clark, G. (2007). A Farewell to Alms: A Brief Economic History of the World. Princeton University Press. Princeton University Press: Princeton. Jacob, M. (1997). Scientific Culture and the Making of the Industrial West. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Snooks, G. D. (2002). Was the Industrial Revolution Necessary. London: Routledge. (2008, 04). Impact of the Industrial Revolution. StudyMode.com. Retrieved 04, 2008, from http://www.studymode.com/essays/Impact-Of-The-Industrial-Revolution-144806.html “Industrial Revolution Research Paper” StudyMode.com. 05 2011. 2011. 05
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The European Industrial Revolution was a time of drastic change. In England it became a transformation from hand tools and hand made items to machined and mass-produced goods. The growth of factories replaced the cottage industries and spawned the development of cities. Growing cities and factories led to changes in transportation, labor, and working conditions. These changes generally helped workers lives, even though initially there were more negatives than positives.
Before the Industrial Revolution England’s economy was based on its cottage industry. Workers would buy raw materials from merchants, take it back to their cottages, hence the name, and produce the goods at their homes. This industry was efficient but the workers productivity was low. Subsequently, goods were high in price and exclusive to only wealthy people. The Industrial Revolution meant factories could mass-produce items at much lower costs than the cottage industries, making goods more affordable to consumers.
With the invention of the steam engine, a shift from rural waterwheels to steam engines as an industrial power source facilitated the emergence of factories and industrial cities. Factories started the process of urbanization by causing people to leave rural sectors and move to the cities looking for a better life. The increase in population in the cities caused overcrowding, pollution, and thus became a breeding ground for communicable diseases. Cities had a snowballing effect developing new business. New and improved transportation systems evolved.
The developments in transportation played an important role in industrialization. Growing cities necessitated investments to be made in improving infrastructure, including roads, bridges, and canals. This paved the way for industrialization which needed an efficient system to transport mass amounts of goods from factories to markets. As the sale of goods increased, factories’ production needed to increase causing problems for the factory worker.
Factories changed the meaning of labor. Even if the hours worked were roughly the same in the factory or in the cottage, factory wage earners lost control over the pace and methods of their work. Constant supervision was also a novel experience, at least for the head of the household. The head of the household, usually the father of the family, was the supervisor in the family run cottage. In the factories he lost his supervision power and was just a worker. Consequently men avoided factory work in the early nineteenth century.
Most cottage working families chose to stay in their homes. As factory production grew, home workers saw their earnings shrink. The next generation cottage workers would find their choice tipped much more heavily toward factories.
Life was drastically changed during the Industrial Revolution. Factory workers were living in germ infested, crowded and very unhealthful conditions, much like their place of work. Children and women labored in harsh conditions, working long hours with little pay. Much of the British working class was worse off. Real wages stagnated while workers sacrificed freedom, health and family. Government involvement was needed to change these conditions. Laws such as the Factory Act (1833) were passed to improve working conditions. The Industrial Revolution changed Europe forever and it’s social and economic changes helped guide other countries through their growth and industrialization processes.
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