The Effects of the Industrial Revolution on Society

The Industrial Revolution changed the ways by how the world produced its goods. It was the era when the use of power-driven machines was developed. It also changed our societies from a mainly agricultural society to one in which industry and manufacturing was in control. This had many effects on people’s lives.

The Industrial Revolution first got its start in Great Britain, during the 18th century. It was inevitable that the country with the most wealth would lead in this revolution. After it adoption in England, other countries such as Germany, the United States and France joined in this revolution. During this time there were many new technological advancements, socioeconomic and cultural problems arised.

On the technology front, the biggest advancements were in steam power. New fuels such as coal and petroleum were incorporated into new steam engines. This revolutionized many industries including textiles and manufacturing. Also, a new communication medium was invented called the telegraph. This made communicating across the ocean much faster.

But, along with this great leap in technology, there was an overall downfall in the socioeconomic and cultural situation of the people. Growth of cities was one of the major consequences of the Industrial Revolution. Many people were driven to the cities to look for work; in turn they ended up living in the cities that could not support them. With the new industrial age, a new quantitative and materialistic view of the world took place. This caused the need for people to consume as much as they could. This still happens today.

Before the Revolution most people lived in small villages, working either in agriculture or as skilled craftsmen. They lived and often worked as a family, doing everything by hand. In fact, three quarters of Britain’s population lived in the countryside, and farming was the predominantoccupation (Porter). Slaves would pull the seeds from raw cotton by hand. However, during the Revolution, a machine was built called the cotton gin, which removed the seeds from the cotton very efficiently.

The Revolution also affected children. When coal became necessary to fuel steam engines, many people were needed to work in coal mines. Children were hires to go into narrow passageways and pick coal. Boys and girls were put to work doing dangerous things that children should not be expected to do. Children also worked in factories. Their small hands came in handy to retrieve broken threads in machines, however many children lost fingers while doing this.

The Industrial Revolution had many negative affects on people. Many people worked from home before the Revolution. Raw materials were delivered to people’s cottages and the weavers would process the wool in their homes. This was an advantage for the workers because they would make their own schedules and work at their own pace; however, for these same reasons, they were disadvantages for business owners.

The Industrial Revolution made it possible to move the jobs from cottages to factories where they business owners can oversee the workers and account for their time. Some people considered the factory jobs a blessing while others considered it a hardship. The work day was long, conditions were unsanitary and food was sparse.

Another negative effect of the Industrial Revolution was on the environment. The factories and industry has increased the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Manufacturing towns were built near coal mines and thick soot and smoke, which was poisonous, covered the air. The health of people was at risk. Disease was spread due to sanitation problems.

There were positive effects as well. The Industrial Revolution brought many new jobs to the people, the textile industry in particular. Women were encouraged to go outside of the home to make money for the family at this time. This could be a social impact. Also, with the new inventions and technology of the Industrial Revolution, products could be made at a much quicker pace, therefore, selling more and producing more money causing an economical impact. People started to move from rural to urban cities in search for jobs and major urbanization began.

In conclusion, mass production had advantages and disadvantages for the people. Many people were able to afford more things because they were making more money, however their health was at risk. It was good for the economy and for our growth as a country, but affected the people in many negative ways.


Porter, Glenn. “Industrial Revolution.” Microsoft Encarta Encyclopedia. Microsoft Corporation, 1999

“Industrial Revolution: The Industrial Revolution in Great Britain,” The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia,, 8 February 2003.