Industrial revolution is an economic phenomenon that took place between the years 1780 to 1840. It was characterized by a massive change in the manufacturing processes. The changes included going from using hand production methods, to using machines. It also gave rise to new production processes such as chemical and iron manufacturing processes. Also, the use of wood as the primary fuel in production declined and in its place, coal and other bio fuels were used. The industrial revolution started in Britain. However, over the years it spread to Western Europe and parts of United States of America.
Industrial revolution brought with it massive changes in economical, technological, social and cultural factors. Its effect on human beings can only be compared with the transition from hunter-gathering to cultivation! In its simplest level, an agrarian world economy, which ran its operations using manual labor, changed into one that used machines. The revolution not only transformed traditional economies, but also changed the whole human societies. The industrial revolution changed the world in many forms.
First, it led to the invention of steam power. Steam power became widely used in numerous industries. It was also used in running transportation mediums such as ships and other water vessels. There was also improvement in the iron making techniques. The new techniques allowed vastly higher production levels. The textile industry also obtained a share of improvements due to the industrial revolution. The industry started using new production machines such as the spinning jenny. This enhanced production levels in the textile industry at low production costs.
Other notable changes as a result of the industrial revolution included the developments of metallurgy as well as chemical production. New production systems triggered a need to develop better machine tools to optimize production. The pressure led to the invention of new tools and equipment which were excellent for working in the industries. Transport and communication networks were tremendously improved to serve the increased transportation demands by high producing industries. Fast canals were developed, and new railways constructed to transport products to different parts of the world.
Industrial revolution also made a notable contribution in social and cultural sectors of numerous societies across the globe. The revolution caused a rapid rural to urban migration pattern. More people migrated to urban centers, which were located close to the industries. This was to seek employment opportunities in the industries. Dense population in the urban centers led to cramped housing and poor living conditions in the form of shanties. In the legal sector, the industrial revolution caused the emergence of laws targeting child labor, and public wellness in working conditions. There are several key reasons why the industrial revolution started in England in the early 18th century.
First, England had already experienced all the other forerunners of industrialization in the 17th century. The forerunners included agricultural revolution, expanded commercial revolution, and development of cottage industries. All these developments had built a voluminous surplus capital and infrastructure which were vital for the industrial revolution to occur. Also, there was already an enormous handcraft textile industry in England. The industry’s principal raw material was wool, but it also had access to cotton which was grown over seas.
The scientific revolution enjoyed in England at the time, also paved a way for the industrial revolution to occur. Scientific studies led to technological innovations of materials that could be used in the emerging industries, in England. There was spreading shortage of timber and wood as production fuels. This stimulated a search for new forms of fuels such as coal, which was a key fuel during the industrial revolution. There were vast mining sites for coal and iron in England. Iron became a key construction medium during the industrial revolution.
England had long and irregular coastlines with numerous rivers as well as natural harbors. This provided ready coastal transportation points and enhanced access of England from other regions. The availability of ports meant that the produced materials in the industries could be sold locally and also shipped off to international markets. Finally, in the 18th century, England experienced a tremendous increase in its general population. The large population provided substantial labor force to work in the emerging industries at the wake of the industrial revolution.
The impetus of United States of America entering into the industrial revolution was the enactment of Embargo Act in the year 1807 and also the war in 1812. The American population was mightily upset by the Chesapeake incident, when the British soldiers opened fire to the Americans at the ports. This was when they were denied to search the American ship. This incident led to a general public outrage which contributed to the passage of the embargo act. This led to stoppage of all exports from America to Britain and vice versa. Eventually, United States went to war with the Great Britain in the year 1812.
The war made it perceptible that the U.S. government needed an improved self transportation system. It also needed to be economically self dependent. These factors led to the establishment of the industrial revolution which truly changed American society. It transformed the economy of the nation into one that is modern urban-industrial state. The industrial revolution in America involved three principal developments. First, the transportation system was expanded. Secondly, the electricity connectivity was enhanced. Finally, gigantic improvements on industrial processes were performed. The improvements included enhancing the refining processes and also accelerating production.
Although the industrial revolution was a period characterized by inventiveness and wealth creation by some nations, it had a negative impact to some nations. This occurrence has been termed by different scholars and publications as “winners” and “losers” of the industrial revolution. The industrial revolution benefitted people in terms of their social classes. Its benefits can only be measured in reference to the people’s living standards. The middle and upper class individuals had access to education which was a key factor of excellence during Industrial revolution. This is because, for the industrial revolution to be entirely successful it demanded a large number of educated individuals.
The educated population in these nations had to be independent-minded professionals with entrepreneurial capabilities. Nations that were close to Europe and the US benefitted immensely in the industrial revolution era. However, only middle and upper class people in those societies achieved significant success. Russia became acutely late in embracing Industrial revolution. This was because of its feudal systems of governance.
Industrial revolution had massive effects on the race, gender, and class relations during the industrial revolution between the years 1800 to 1914. The revolution changed the roles of men and women in the society. Men became stereotyped as the “bread winners” and women as the “home makers.” This perception dominated the minds of men and women for over 200 years. It is not until the 20th century that campaigns seeking gender equality were introduced. The perception is still vibrant especially in the developing nations, where women are regarded to be the weaker sex. They are unable to vie for strong public positions perceived to be best controlled by men. This could be in government positions or the senior management offices at public or private companies.
The industrial revolution tremendously benefitted the middle and upper classes people in the society. The lower class population was characterized by lack of education or formal and profitable employment. This made the financially better people richer and worsened off the financial position of the poor in the society. Eventually, the bridge between the poor and the rich became so wide due to the disparity of income distribution. Social relations became affected and since that time social associations between the poor and the rich became almost inapplicable. This was a massive setback in the industrial revolution.