What Was the Industrial Revolution? | World History Review
The industrial revolution in Europe in the 19th century produced immediate and far reaching changes in the social structure. New energy sources, such as the steam engine, make great increases in productivity possible. There were several different new energy sources, they found new ways to use water power, they found -such as with the steam engine that’s harnessing water steam.
They also found new ways to use coal, and new ways to practice metallurgy. There were a lot of new ways to use energy that they’d previously used or new found sources of energy. All of those things combined to increase productivity. The factory system for manufacturing textiles is implemented, meaning that individuals were only required to do one in a series of tasks required to prepare a piece of cloth.
Each person would know how to do one job, or a couple people would know how to do one job, and then they do their one part and pass it off to the next step, and at the next step a couple people would know how to do that job. No one had to know how to make the whole piece -or whole bolt of cloth, they only had to know how to do a certain part of it. This division of labor also increased productivity.
Before one person would do all the jobs, and they may be really good at one part but really bad at another part, or they would be really quick at one part but really slow at another part. This let people work where their strengths could shine, and where their strengths would get the most use. Someone who is really fast at the first step of the process could work there, someone who is really fast at the last step could work there, and all the spots in the middle.
Everyone was trained to do just one in a series of tasks, instead of one person having to do all the tasks. That made things go quicker, and increase productivity. With the success of the textile industry and new energy resources, more and more workers were needed in European cities. Before there were people in cities, but there were also a lot of people that lived out in the country on farms, or had their own homes on a piece of land where they grew their own food.
There were people that flocked to the cities for art or learning, but they didn’t really come there for work as much. Only the merchants could really get a job coming from the farmlands into the city. Now, people began to abandon their country lives, and take factory jobs in town, and different cities across Europe. Industrialization did come to England before it came anywhere else, but it quickly spread throughout Europe and then just a little while later over to America.
Once it started it spread quickly, but it did begin in England. People left their country lives to go work in these factories, because now there was a new job there. There was something they could go and have a possible better life than they did on their farms. There was a rapid urbanization, which is when urban areas grow quickly, such as the areas within a city or surrounding a city. -There’s urban rapid- This rapid urbanization created a new middle class in Europe.
Let’s look at some of the pros to the urbanization, and how that middle class developed. As people flooded the cities to work in booming factories, large landowners consolidated the farmlands they left behind. People would flood the cities to work, and they would sell off their farms so that they could make that move, and have somewhere to live, and a little bit of money to live on while they got set up in their new job.
Large landowners would say, “Okay, we’ll stay here and just keep taking all the land, we’ll buy it off of them as they leave, and we’ll have lots and lots of lan, and we can do with it whatever we want to make the most money.” This was a good thing for the large landowners, because they were going to be able to have more land. It did give the people who were flocking to the cities a way to get a little money to start them off, but they were giving up the place that they had lived, and had a home, and had at least food to eat.
They may not have been able to make as much money, they had just a small area to plant. They may have only been able to make enough food for themselves, and not enough to make money. Moving into the cities gave them an opportunity to possibly be able to make more money, and become wealthier as a family. The booming success of industry made many people rich as investors and merchants.
The middle class gained even more political power in Europe. Where the middle class didn’t have as much political power, because they weren’t as wealthy as the upper class citizens, now the middle class was becoming richer and it was gaining more political power. Social mobility was much more possible in this economic environment, encouraging many people to stick with jobs that were demeaning and not especially lucrative.
Well, social mobility is the idea that you can move from one class to another. A lower class citizen who may have been virtually a peasant out on the farms, may have moved in, got a factory job, people saw that he did a good job, and he gets promoted. He makes way more money that way, he can actually move up into the upper lower class, and then move into the middle class, and maybe even higher.
Instead of being trapped in the class that you were born in, there’s a lot more mobility. You could sell your farm that had made you plenty of money in hopes of going and investing in a factory in the city, and your factory could fail. You could drop from middle class or above a little class to lower class very quickly. Or you could go as a peasant or a lower class farmer, and do well in one of the factories, or become a supervisor there and you could end up making more money and rise from being lower class up to middle class or higher.
There was a lot more mobility here as far as social class goes, and the reason they encouraged many people to stick with jobs that were demeaning and not very lucrative, was that they had the opportunity to advance. They may say, “Okay well I’m going to take this factory job. It’s not paying me very much money. It’s not paying me as much as I could have made on my farm, but if I do a good job maybe I can move up. Maybe I can save up enough money to be able to invest in something. Maybe I can start my own factory someday.”
People had ambition, and they envisioned having more opportunity here rather than opportunities out on the farms. There wasn’t as much available for them to move social class wise out there, where in the cities, there was always that possibility. This rapid urbanization also created a number of problems. So many people moving to the city at once would create some problems.
First of all, most cities did not have the infrastructure to support a large population explosion. They didn’t have the streets first of all, but they also didn’t have any of the city services in place for such a large population. They were used to maintaining who they had in the city. That level of a population that was slowly growing. They weren’t used to having so many people come all at once.
They didn’t have the housing, they didn’t have sewer, they didn’t have running water, they didn’t have enough of anything really to take care of all these people. The roadways, of course, weren’t going -to be used- or used to having that much traffic on them, both foot traffic and different carts and different apparatuses that people were using to move all their stuff from the farm to the city.
There’s going to be a lot more traffic, and there will be a lot more people in the city. The cities weren’t prepared for that internally whenever all these people came. As a result disease, crime, and poverty were common. You could end up moving from the lower class up to the middle class, but you could drop down from the middle class to the lower class. Or you could just stay in the lower class, if that’s where you were.
If you come in you don’t have a lot of money, you don’t have somewhere to stay, you can’t stay in an inn, you don’t have the money for it, you can’t buy your own home. There’s a lot that you don’t have access to in the city without money. Poverty was common, crime was common. If you didn’t have money and you couldn’t get a factory job, or you weren’t making enough at the factory job and your family still needed to eat, then you may steal from someone to be able to make ends meet, and so crime was common.
Then disease, with so many people living so closely together, if one person got sick it was going to spread very quickly, and so disease was common. There were some negatives to this rapid urbanization. Working class individuals, now I talked about how they had the possibility to move up, but we also talked about how they may stick with jobs that were demeaning and not very lucrative. Some working class individuals were probably not pleased with their new lives.
They had 18 hour days sometimes, many times, they had low wages. The factory owners knew all these people wanted to work in factories, so they didn’t have to pay them that much. They just had to pay them enough that they could get workers in the door, and if people were waiting in line to work there, he didn’t have to pay them that much more.
You could just pay them the bare minimum that they would come to work for. Dangerous machinery. These factories had people working in there, but they were also full of dangerous machines. That was something that you had to worry about on a daily basis, if you are working in a factory. They also- you have to think about who was working. Women and children also worked, so the men were going into these dangerous machinery filled factories, and working these 18 hour days for low wages.
But women and children were doing the same thing, and they were often paid less than men. They were also usually given the most menial jobs. If they thought the men could lift stuff, they could figure stuff out better, then they would be given better jobs. The women and children may -give jobs- may have been given jobs that were more along the lines of cleaning up after people, sweeping, washing dishes, sewing.
They weren’t going to be given the better jobs. They were going to be given worse jobs, harder job, sometimes and they were going to be paid less than men. They’re working in the same dangerous conditions a lot of the time, but being paid less. While there were some benefits to people moving very quickly to the city, there were also some drawbacks as well.
A small rebellion, led by a group called the Luddites, tried to resist industrialization, and were known for vandalizing factory equipment. They were one group who did not like this industrialization, they didn’t like all the bad things they saw come with it, and they didn’t like the social class changing and they said, “Okay we don’t want all of this industrialization, we want things to kind of stay how they were.”
That didn’t really work out. For the most part, people were optimistic about the prospect of upward mobility. They thought they might be able to move from a lower social class to a higher one, and they were willing to endure hardship for hope. Even though they were working these bad jobs for low pay, they had that hope that option, that they could advance, that they could make more money, that they could have better lives here in the city.
The industrial revolution was just whenever all at once in the 19th century, very quickly energy sources came along that were new to people and increased productivity. One of the big things was the factory system came about, where each person would work on one step in the process it would get things done quicker. That division of labor increased productivity, and with all of this, with the factory system, there was a rapid increase of population to cities throughout Europe.