Industrial Revolution Essay

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The First Industrial Revolutions Impact on Society
Western Governor’s University

The Industrial Revolution was a major shift in history that impacted and influenced almost every aspect of daily life. This revolution is marked as the time from 1780-1850 when advancements in science and technology transformed the way of production, communication, and transportation. But this revolution did not only impact these aspects, it also had social consequences as well. Two major social consequences were mechanization and urbanization.
Social Consequences of the First Industrial Revolution
Mechanization is the replacement of human or animal labor with a machine. Before this change to machine labor people had to be skilled artisans and craftsmen, but the labor was tedious and expensive. Machines were able to do the same type of work but more efficiently and cheaper. This changed how people worked all together. Laborers were hired to carry out one specific task on the task line. The nature and pace of industrial labor was monotonous. Another aspect of mechanization was the speed at which machines could operate. This caused for working conditions that required longer hours and a faster pace. One Mills Manager remembers that one girl used to tend up to 2 looms but now that same girl was required to man 4-5 looms. The companies did not pay more for the increase of workload. Everyone had to work harder just to stay even. Urbanization is the second social consequence of the industrial revolution. Before this revolution families lived on farms and cottages and worked together to survive, but now with industrialization and manufacturing this was not feasible. Many had to seek employment in the factories. Unfortunately these same workers had limited means of transportation, so they had to move to residences that were close to their place of employment. This, along with immigrants from other lands seeking employment, caused major cities to spring up. This process of cities becoming larger is known as urbanization. Chicago is an example of urbanization. In the 1830’s there were less than 7,000 workers that resided in Chicago, but by the 1900’s there were over a half million laborers. Chicago was the second largest industrial city. This city had huge industries of meat, steel, and railroad equipment. With this huge influx of residents, living conditions declined. Problems of overcrowding and sanitation were seen. Societal segregation was occurring, as evidenced by social living areas ranging from the cheap dismal conditions of the working class and immigrant districts, up to the mansions on the Gold Coast and Prairie Avenue of the wealthiest citizens. (Lewis, 2003)
The Rise of Capitalism The Industrial Revolution led to the rise of capitalism. From the beginning of history capitalism was present but not to the scale that we see it today. This shift was because of the technological advances during the Industrial Revolution. Capitalism is the means of making money by investing money. In order for this work there are a few concepts that must be in place. First, one must establish ownership of the product and be able to transfer the title of that product, second, there must be a measurable value for the product, and third, there needs to be a market for that product. Because of steam powered ships and the railroads the market opened up and international trade became possible. With this growth of the market and the increase of consumption needs there was a large enough demand to invest in industrial production. The story of James M’Connel and John Kennedy is an example of the idea of capitalism. M’Connel and Kennedy were successful owners in the cotton mills. In 1819 they owned 344 mills. These mills operated on 4,500 spindles per mill, and 312 workers. The cotton mill industry was good and profitable which attracted more and more business owners. In order for M’Connel and Kennedy to stay competitive they had to