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The Consequences of Industrial Revolution

The Consequences of Industrial Revolution

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The Consequences of Industrial Revolution

The industrial revolution is undoubtedly the greatest turning point in world history. Its effect was not spontaneous, but rather a continuous process that mainly lasted from 1750 to 1900.  Over the years, it manifested itself gradually through local, regional and international environments. Eventually, it marked the beginning of modern socio-economic development after transforming various societies from primary agricultural producers to industrial economies. Even though most of the contemporary practices are products of the industrial revolution, the watershed period (1750-1850) accelerated growth via brutal methods that in the modern day will be regarded as archaic and dictatorial. Notwithstanding, its atrocious nature eventually led to the improvement of working conditions, the formation of new political-economic ideologies, and severing of social relationships to boost urbanization.

Background

Before all the benefits of industrialization were realized, the transition period lasting between 1750 and 1850 was characterized by hardships, torture, and child labour (Doc 135, p.150). In Europe where industrial revolution was born, the labor system was for a long time structured in a way that benefited landlords or industry owners at the expense of poor landless peasants. The latter traded for their labor, and on most occasions they yielded to the appalling working conditions set out by the employer. For instance, when the Saddler Committee collected views about working conditions, Elizabeth Bentley, one of the interviewees noted that she could have worked in the dusty and cold environment as long as she could, in spite of her being underpaid and mistreated by the employees. She also confessed that fellow workers who failed to follow the stringent laws of the mills where she worked were strapped regularly, yet they could not abandon their jobs (Doc 135, p.154). Only ill health could stop them from working.

Naturally, the cruel state of the workplace strained the relationship between the wealthy capitalists and the deprived proletariats. It also perpetuated inequality because the remuneration given to the latter was not sufficient to enable them to grow their wealth. In fact, most of them spent the biggest fraction of their day working in factories, yet they received little pay. As a result, majority of family members were forced to work so as to make ends meet. Consequently, there was insufficient time available to socialize, or to make viable attachments. Even children began to work at a very young age when they should be nurtured by their parents.

Overall, work at new industries transformed the family into a loose union very susceptible to disintegration. Bentley’s family and what she underwent is a perfect example of how hardships turned families into meaningless units. Due to harsh working conditions, her father died early. To take care of herself and her widowed mother, she was forced to start working at the age of six in a job that required her to be present from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. (Doc 135, p.149). Unluckily, by the age of twenty-three she fell ill as a result of the unhealthy working conditions. Consequently, she ended up becoming a dependant of a local parish detached from her mother. Besides families, the industrial age also weakened friendships. After Bentley had become ill, only one friend came to visit her. Similarly, while she was working, she never bothered to find out what happened to fellow workers who fell sick.

However, after the hearing of the Sadler Committee in 1833, improvement in the welfare of the working class began to be realized. Notably, big industrial economies like Britain yielded to reformist pressures that campaigned for the abolishment of inhumane practices. Consequently, they were forced to enact laws capable of safeguarding the wellbeing of vulnerable sections of the society such as children and women. For instance, the Sadler Committee hearing gave rise to the first English Factory Act of 1833 (Doc 135, p.155). In the act, it was recommended that children aged less than eighteen years should not be allowed to work during night hours.

Discussion

Improved Working Conditions

Before the industrial revolution spread to the entire world, it started as a slow agrarian change in Britain.  It mainly involved the mechanization of agricultural activities and construction of mills. Instead of the innovations reducing the demand for labor and improving wages, they ironically achieved the opposite. Newly constructed factories sought more people to work for them for longer hours. To maximize profits, some of the owners decided to employ children whom they offered little pay. For example, Bentley confessed to the Saddler Committee that she was paid one shilling less than women employees because she was a minor. However, over the years fairer practices were instituted by authorities. By 1850, wages for many workers began to rise. Moreover, the discoveries of this era ensured that people lived healthier lives that translated to improved productivity.

Formation of New Political-Economic Ideologies

A dynamic shift in Britain’s economy occurred as a result of its efficient use of coal.  After the boom of its manufacturing industry, its merchants developed naval trade routes that paid huge dividends. Their overseas funds financed further domestic growth, as well as increased the influence of their home country in other continents such as Asia and Africa. They also had a positive impact on local wages as workers got paid more for their traditional roles. Notably, the country constructed a huge network of railroads that opened into interior parts of Europe.  Externally, the success of commercial activities helped it promote its imperialistic interests.

Severing of Social Relationships and Urbanization

            The current urbanized societies are a product of the industrial revolution. Before its realization, most communities lived in agricultural villages that guaranteed their survival due to the presence of food and water. However, the invention of factories shifted the focus from subsistence farming to commercial production. As a result, many families separated as some members moved closer to the factories to earn a living. More particularly, males left their children and wives in the village as they sought better-paying jobs. As more industries sprung up, so did urbanization.     

Conclusion

It is evident that the industrial revolution changed three critical issues that are fundamental to the modern day life. In spite of it manifesting itself through hardships and suffering for the working class, it eventually depicts itself as a metaphorical phenomenon that was indispensable to give rise to a responsible contemporary workplace. For example, after inflicting painful working experiences on people like Bentley, authorities in Britain realized that fast growth was being attained at the expense of the safety of helpless workers. As a result, this gave rise to the formulation of political-economic policies that acted as modulators of worker safety and steady economic growth. Similarly, the societal strains brought about by the early days of the take-off period were inevitable incidents that eventually gave birth to the rise of present-day industrial cities.

Although not all countries can be said to have undergone a similar experience of Britain, its story is a classic depiction of the minuscule advancements that define the current global economy. Unlike in the pre-industrial age where the majority of the workforce was involved in harsh and poorly paying farming activities, the post-industrial period enables most people to be employed in formal commercial sectors such as finance, transportation, trade, security, communication, manufacturing, and consultancy.  Moreover, the new environment ensures that all employees work under supervised conditions that are democratic, fair, safe, and sustainable.

References

Doc 135. (n.d.). The Industrial Revolution: Industrialization and its Consequences.

 

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