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The Industrial Revolution

Essay by   •  December 2, 2010  •  Research Paper  •  2,027 Words (9 Pages)  •  2,416 Views

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The Industrial Revolution came through the world very slowly, but built up to present day knowledge on technology, economics, and even sociology. The sudden change of events in the mid-1700s changed the way of life forever. The changes from the Industrial Revolution did not emerge by themselves; many people are recognized for their contributions to this changing of history. It was a turning point in history.

The Industrial Revolution had many factors which made it to be seen as a turning point in history. One factor was Britain having natural advantages that others didn't. It was richly covered with coal and iron ore and had easy access to waterways. It was mostly placed at the crossroads of international trade, and internal trade was influenced by the absence of domestic tariffs. After the union of England and Scotland in 1707, the largest free-trade area in Europe, political liberty was guaranteed, and a relatively open social structure made social mobility common, giving an increase to the accumulation of wealth.

Another factor was the agricultural revolution which began in the 1600s in Britain. New methods of farming, such as new methods of crop rotation and the use of turnips to restore exhausted soil, helped to create larger crop output. According to Asthton (1997), "In the eighteenth century most of the people of Britain earned their living by work on the land"(p.18). But, due to such advances, many people were initially not needed to work the fields, therefore leaving many out of work. A population "boom" emerged because of the agricultural revolution, people were healthier with no fear of famine, diseases such as the bubonic plague had faded away, and sanitation with improved medicate appeared. Due to this, death rates decreased and birthrates increased. Since many men and woman were forced out of farm labor, many had to seek jobs in larger cities. Men, women, and even children had to work the mines, build factories, and run machines. In a factory, many worked twelve to sixteen hour shifts in dangerous conditions where one could even lose a life from the machines being used. Those who worked in the mine had to take in coal filled air day after day. The thought of children working in such harsh conditions was not accepted by many and later very slowly led to Parliament's passing of laws made to regulate child labor. Many people debated whether or not the Industrial Revolution was a blessing or a curse. Soon enough, though, laws were passed to improve working conditions. Unions won the right to fight for better wages and the demand rose so many more factories were erected, making more and more jobs. Britain tried to enforce laws on exporting inventions so that they would be the only advanced society of the revolution, but the spread of the Industrial Revolution was unavoidable. Like Britain, other countries had trouble in the beginning of their industrializations. Again, men, women, and children worked in harsh conditions for long periods of time. Also, more and more goods were produced at lower prices. New methods were produced, such as the assembly line, which sped up production greatly.

Many businesses grew, and entrepreneurs began making monopolies and trusts. According to Clarkson (1990), "The entrepreneur, acting either as an individual or jointly with others in an organized association, having set up his business or taken over an existing one, could confine his activities to determining major policy decisions involving, inter alia, the exploration of technical and/or organization innovations and the continuous adaptation of the firm so as most profitably to exploit his chosen market"(p.71). This was a start to how business works today. As the industrial revolution progressed, cities changed more and more. Sidewalks were made, sewer systems helped citizens keep healthier, and architects began making towering buildings. Although these changes made the cities more appealing, the poor and unemployed still lived crowded. Conditions did not greatly increase for the poor. The lower working class began to protest for better conditions. According to Stearns (1998), "Factory workers sometimes faced an increase in poverty, as wages were kept low and prices of some goods rose. Other workers, as we have seen, won modest benefits from the industrial revolution, and certainly the tendency after the initial decades was for standards of living to improve"(p.57). By the late 1800s most European countries gave people the right to form unions and bargain on their own behalf. The fast growth of these labor unions gave workers many reforms. Children under ten no longer could be employed, which hurt many families, but was a turning point to the end of child labor. Other laws gave workers better conditions, wages and the standards of living rose. As the industrial revolution grew, so did the western social structure. The middle class had grown into a way of life. Good manners were important and it controlled social behavior. Parents supervised their children so that they would not make a false impression on their parents. As many middle class families had maids and cooks, the help at home also reflected their masters and were expected to be seen and not heard. Although earlier it was accepted for the parents to prearrange marriages, it became more common for children to choose their own husband or wife. Between the husband and wife, the division of labor changed. At first husbands would be able to work so that their wives could stay home, while they would do charity work or do work for the church. These ideas rarely came into a lower class home. As social order shifted, women began to protest restrictions on women. Women wanted more control over property and the right to vote. Although women did not get these rights very quickly, they slowly did in country after country. Education also became more popular, industrialized societies believed they needed an educated workforce. As schooling became more and more popular, universities expanded, but at the time, only affordable by middle or upper class families. Many things happened in this period of time that it is easily seen why it is thought to have been a turning point in history.

Many people are to be accredited for all that came out of the Industrial Revolution. According to Hindle & Lubar (1986), "Before that period of change, craft technology was dominant, depending on hand tools, simple machines, individual skills, and small shop or home productions"(p.9). Some of the first men to change the way it once was were Lord Charles Townshend and King George III who contributed to the agricultural revolution. The agricultural revolution made farms workable with less people, causing the need for more jobs. James Watt's invention, the steam engine, needed coal to

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