The Industrial Revolution (1750s 1840s) was a major turning point in Great Britain and it effected the people and economic structure of Great Britain drastically. This evolution of new ideas and ways of life brought about many positive and negative effects on society. These positive effects , such as urbanization, which provided the labor source for factors due to many people living in cities , moving from hand made products to being factory made, and the steam engine were extremely helpful for Great Britain. In contrast the Industrial Revolution also had negative effects such as the overcrowding of cities, low wages/ exploitation of workers, and poor working conditions in factories which effected many people in Great Britain in a harsh and brutal way.
The Industrial revolution didnt start overnight though, it was sparked by the Agricultural Revolution which provided the labor source required for these factories to operate. These new workers that were in abundance came from land that were seized by local landlords due to the Enclosure Acts of the 1700s.
Due to all of this land being seized small farmers went out of business and their land was bought by other landowners (very little landowners had a substantial amount of wealth) that had much more financial stability which let more land be owned by fewer people causing a agricultural boom. These previous workers from small farms were in need of work to provide for themselves and their family leading to urbanization in cities (Doc 4). The working class was met with countless jobs to be filled and gave hope for a better life within cities and a thirst for wealth and success.
In these factories located in cities they replaced hand made products to being machine made and created a more efficient way of producing goods. The cotton industry was helped extremely by these factories due to inventions such as Cartwrights power loom, Cromptons spinning mule and Arkwrights water frame enabling workers to produce cotton and yarn on a large scale (Doc 2).
This led to the increase In cotton trade and also helped the iron industry grow due to the need for iron to produce these machines (Doc 2). The cotton industry is now spreading all over Great Britain and Europe proving money and wealth for workers and having a positive effect on British society by creating more jobs and a more industrialized society. These new jobs also brought about a more diverse work scene by changing social roles from women usually saying at home to women working a providing a more mixed working environment by working in factories.
These machines that were being used in factories to improve industries such as the cotton industry were powered by a genius invention called the steam engine (Doc 3). The steam engine is a machine that converts heat of steam that is being produced and funnies it into a cylinder which pushes a piston that allows various tasks to be done with ease.
The steam engine led to the creation of steam boats and steam trains. These methods of transportations also required railways and canals to be built to enable them to reach certain destinations in a short period of time. Steam boats and steam trains often transported goods which increased trade. They also were able to spread ideas and cultures due to the machines being able to travel far distances and carry passengers to and from different towns and cities (Doc 3).
Even though the Industrial Revolution had positive effects many negative ones followed. The urbanization of cities eventually made cities extremely overcrowded and living conditions very harsh (Doc 4). The families of these cities usually had to share only one one room and they became very dirty quickly, this produced sicknesses that eventually led to many deaths (Doc 5). This lowered the overall life expectancy of people living in these cities by people dying earlier.
Due to overpopulation goods such as food and clothing were in demand, unfortunately due to low wages due to mostly unskilled jobs being occupied families could not afford much food or new clothes which led to starvation and harsh environmental effects due to inadequate protection from the elements. Water supplies were also effected due to the dirty conditions, water supplies became defective and scarce (Doc 6).
The inability to provide for ones family was directly sourced by low wages and exploitation of workers in factories. This was due to the application of Adam Smiths laissez faire economic system and factories owners being able to set any regulations and wages they want without their business being regulated by the government. This led to low wages so factory owners could make the maximum amount of profit and due to their being no restrictions or rules this led to some workers being abused and extremely hurt (Doc 7).
Targets of abuse and exploitation was primarily targeted at women and children, children would be abused (physically and sexually) due to lack of dominance and rules in factories and women and children would be paid less compared to older male workers. The lack of rules and regulations in British factories led to heartless acts occurring and no one , especially factory owners, doing nothing to stop it.
All of these negative aspects of factories led to a overall horrendous work environment and conditions for all workers during the Industrial Revolution. The exploitation of workers, low wages, sexism, abuse and the laissez faire policy created a place where disasters were destined to happen. Even with all of these conditions that were encountered the machines were also a huge threat to the workers as well.
Due to the machines being relatively new to be used and laissez faire policy the machines had no safety mechanisms to prevent catastrophic injuries that would occur. If a worker got a piece of clothing, a limb or hair caught in a machine there was no way to stop or prevent the machines injuring and possibly killing the worker (Doc 2).
Overall the Industrial Revolution had many positive and negative effects ranging from tragic deaths in factories to economic growth in Great Britain. These effects would impact the people of Great Britain and Europe as a whole due to ideas, ideologies and inventions spreading rapidly. The Industrial Revolution helped Europe grow and prosper, creating a strong economic foundation for the years to come.
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