What would our lives look like if it weren’t for the machines that we use on a daily bases? Before the discovery of fossil fuels everything ran on a simply sources of energy. The main sources of energy before the Industrial Revolution would have been what little energy that was captured from various types of windmills or waterwheels that would capture energy to use immediately. The way things had been drastically changed with the discovery of fossil fuels underground. New resources discovered during the Industrial Revolution were the catalyst that made it a defining moment in history for Britain and the world.
The very first Industrial Revolution took place in Britain beginning in the late 1700’s and continuing. The agricultural communities had little ways of communication and were without roads or railways. Forms of transportation such as cars and trains had not yet been invented so communication between cities was few and far between and usually carried by the occasional traveler or messenger. The population was still very dependent on farming and dependent on the community in which they lived to provide the necessities of everyday life. Farming is a seasonal task and would leave farmers without work for many months out of the year which caused a great deal of poverty. During the time before the Industrial Revolution education was very poor for the majority and was exclusively available to the wealthy. This did not help the poverty situation because the humble farming families could not receive a better education so that they might be able to find a different kind of work to support themselves. The Industrial Revolution would alleviate some of these issues but not all of them.
Britain was where the Industrial Revolution first started but fossil fuels could be found in many other places in the world. So why Britain? There is not one or even a couple of reasons why this happened but many different reasons varying from increased food production from the Agricultural Revolution to Britain’s government encouraging trade and innovation. The formation of different banking and stock solutions would allow for more risk in developing different advancement in technology and machinery. The more frequent use and mapping of canals and rivers would allow for goods to be transported easier and more quickly to hard to reach parts of the country. One of the biggest factors in the revolution was the supply and demand of the cotton industry. In the time before the Industrial Revolution anything that was made from cotton was handmade and took a great amount of time to craft. While the population growth did not slow down anytime soon, the demand for various types of clothing sky rocketed. Sewing cloth by hand would in no way keep up with the demand of this fast growing population. Soon different types of weavers were invented that could speed the process to match the speed of three hand sewing workers. This sped up production and allow for the hire of many laborers to make textiles.
One of the main positive effects of the Industrial Revolution was the building of factories. As the population grew including the demand for hand made products, the factories were able to employ many workers which also improved their living situation. Products would begin to be made in mass amounts and sold to the people. Thanks to assembly lines, machines, and mass production, goods could be made much easier and a lot faster. Mass production and assembly lines meant that several different goods could be manufactured in a fraction of the time that one item would be made in, in the past. With making the production process more streamlined, the prices for products were much less expensive. This was attributed to the little amount of time needed to produce goods, as well as factories saving costs on the labor needed to produce. Much of the modern inventions and the amount of money that was brought into the industrial cities improved the way that people lived. Education, healthcare, and nutrition all began to be more accessible.
In shifting from an agricultural society to an industrial society there were many more options for work. As mentioned above, farming was a seasonal task that left the people without work for months out of the year. Since so many factories were being built and industries began to grow there was a huge demand for unskilled labor. This presented the people with more options to make a living, the way in which they wanted to live, and higher wages. The Industrial Revolution completely transformed the role of the family. In the agricultural society, families worked together in the production of goods and working in the fields. Working time was flexible and could be done in the individuals own time frame. With the age of industrialization life at work and life at home became very separated. The majority of the money was made by the man at work while the women took care of the home and saw their working role in society decline. The ever changing tasks that a farmer would do in the country before the Industrial Revolution in society was a very big contrast to the factory workers who typically worked the same repetitive tasks for very long hours each day.
Though the effects of the Industrial Revolution saw many improvements in the British economy and way of life, there were negative effects that were just as important. The time of the revolution saw a boom in population, overcrowding in the cities was a very big problem. In addition to overcrowding, poor sanitation and poor diets lead to easily spreading sicknesses and diseases. There were many advances in industry and technology but not the same advances in medical treatments. Middle Ages remedies and potions were still being used to treat symptoms and illnesses that showed little to know improvement. Even though medical care and treatment was much more accessible in the cities, the life expectancy was much lower than those who lived in the country.
Factories were very dark and unhealthy places to work. The only sunlight that reached the inside was the few windows that were high on the walls. Soot and smoke filled the air and covered everything including the workers. Machines had no safety precautions and accidents were frequent. This was no place for a child but child labor was very common during the Industrial Revolution. Cheap unskilled workers were readily used instead of the skilled workers and artisans of the pre-industrial movement and child workers were the cheapest labor there was. Some of the newly created machines were so easy to work that children could easily perform the functions at a fraction of the labor cost of an adult. Small children could also fit and squeeze into small places where adults could not. It was thought that children were able to work and therefore should also be a contributing part of society by working in the factories. Poor families needed the extra income and with the children working alongside the parents they would have more money to live on.
During the Industrial Revolution there were two main classes that consisted of the middle class, working class, and upper class. The middle class consisted of business professionals. The larger the Industrial Revolution grew, the higher up these individuals became. New libraries and universities were built because there of their need for more education. The middle and upper classes had better living conditions and nutrition, which led to fewer illnesses and longer life expectancies. In a very stark contrast with the two other classes, the working class did not enjoy the same luxuries and amenities as the middle and upper classes. Workers worked for low wages due to their lack of educations and/or skills. The housing in which the working class lived was unsanitary which led to diseases. Another huge difference that made life difficult for the working class was that there were limited privileges in voting and were prohibited from fighting to improve their working conditions.
During the Industrial Revolution, Britain experienced many changes as the industrialization created a need for social and political changes. The working class gradually began to make demands of the country to improve education, labor rights, and equality. The Industrial Revolution brought a lot changes to the peoples way of life. The technological improvements ushered in the advancement of agriculture, industry, and trade. Industrialization eventually spread to the other countries of Europe at their own pace. Other countries would draw on their own natural resources, technology, and machinery. The Industrial Revolution became one of the major forces of change as it led civilization into the industrial time period that has brought key improvement to the modern world. Beginning in Britain, its spread to Europe ensured its growth and success.
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