The Industrial Revolution was a period from the 18th to the 19th century where major changes in agriculture, manufacturing and technology had a profound effect on the socioeconomic and cultural conditions of the world. The Industrial Revolution began in the United Kingdom as large deposits of coal and iron were found throughout the land which brought the rise of factories and machines, the idea then subsequently spread throughout the world.
It was perhaps one of the greatest moments in human history, as it gave rise to industrialization and the switch from manpower to machine power. It completely revolutionized the world and forever changed the course of humanity. However, many scholars and historians believe that the Industrial Revolution’s benefits didn’t outweigh the negative impacts it brought upon the world. I for one believe that the benefits brought upon by the Industrial Revolution justify the negative impacts it had on the world. Without the Industrial Revolution, the world as we know it wouldn’t exist.
The Industrial Revolution brought about immense economic benefits not only for Great Britain but for all the countries in the world who commenced the process of industrialization. It led to a rapid increase in technology, which affected production rates. Since factories were creating goods with machines and little human assistance, everything was being mass produced. Machines made it possible to produce a greater quantity of goods at a faster rate so to satisfy the rules of supply and demand, the prices of goods dropped and many people were able to afford to spend money.
Throughout history many have said that imperialism was a bad consequence of the Industrial Revolution, but I believe it happened to boost economic benefits. As proven by Document 8 in a quote by King George II of England, imperialism was necessary for the industrial revolution to keep moving forward. He states that England had to take colonies in order to keep their industries supplied with raw materials.
The picture in Document 4 is a clear example of how many benefits industrialization brought to England. It shows how many territories England was able to conquer because of industrialization and the need for raw materials. England’s conquests allowed for the world to have new markets which would bring in good profits not only in the United Kingdom but for the rest of the world. It would also allow for the conquered countries to industrialize which would bring up the economic value of the country and increase profits in the long run.
A boost in economic benefits wasn’t the only effect of the industrial revolution, it also brought about social changes. Before factories and machines, women weren’t viewed as being able to do the same job as men. They were seen as housewives and this assumption remained the same until the rise of factories and industry. For the first time, women were able to work in the same factories as men. However, women were paid less than men because society at that time still viewed them as inferior to men.
Although you could still see this policy in some societies today, women are now able to work in the same positions as men because of the circumstances that were brought by the rise of industrialization and factories. Also, thanks to mass production in factories, the rule of supply and demand allowed people to afford new things as stated before. Such an effect is shown in Document 7 in an excerpt from The Working Man’s Companion published in 1831. It states how people are surrounded with an infinite number of comforts and conveniences which “had no existence” but are within reach of almost all men.
Though I believe the negative impacts of the Industrial Revolution were justified by the benefits received, they were necessary to advance society. Indeed the Industrial Revolution led to the policy of imperialism which resulted in some negative impacts. For example, having someone take what’s yours and claiming it as theirs would obviously result in a negative outcome. Some of the negative impacts weren’t just abroad, they were in the homefront as well. To support the factories and allow the machines to function the machines you would need many workers.
The issue with women now being able to work was already covered but industrialists also brought children into the working place during this period in time. As seen in the picture in Document 1, there was a great demand for children as workers. Not only where they paid less than adults, they were able to do certain jobs that adults couldn’t do. For example, the picture shows what looks like a child pulling on a coal cart through what seems to be a small space. Adults weren’t able to do these tasks so children were called upon to complete these tasks.
However, little consideration was shown to the welfare of these children. They were seen as mere tools for factory owners as shown by Document 5. The excerpt from a testimony before the Sadler Committee in 1832 shows how children had to work for sixteen hours and were only given one forty minute break for only one meal if they could afford it. Children became tired more quickly and the testimony shows that children were frequently strapped to the machines to keep them awake and attentive.
Document 3 shows another social problem that occurred during the rise of the industrial revolution. The excerpt mentions how every town has one or more slum areas where the working class were packed. Although industrialization brought about immense profits for the wealthy, the working class didn’t progress very far or experience the same conveniences and improvements as the upper classes. The excerpt describes in detail how life was like in the slums of the working class and the conditions they had to live in.
The working class had to live close to the factories because the factory owners made them around the factories to make it more convenient for the factory owners and as you could imagine, the quality of the air around them wasn’t the best. The smog created by the factories burning fossil fuels would sometimes block out the sun. Night and day would sometimes be indistinguishable.
Through all this, the benefits of the Industrial Revolution did help to justify the negative impacts it had on the world. Although it brought about a new age of imperialism throughout the world, it led to an increase in globalization which would later turn out to become just as beneficial as the Industrial Revolution. Without Imperialism, some of the world’s countries would never have modernized in time without the help of their conquerors and would probably still be a developing country today.
Industrialization’s need of raw materials to sustain itself led to the opening of world markets. Although working conditions were poor, people still had jobs and this was important because it allowed you to survive. It would take some time but having a job would increase your chances of success in the future and open the door to more opportunities. The negative effects of working conditions in factories led to drastic changes that completely revised the factory structures.
Because of the struggles that people during this period had to go through, changes were made that allowed people today to be able to enjoy the benefits that their job provides for them. All of the above were a result of the industrial revolution and it completely justifies the negative impacts it had on the world. Without this period in time, the world as we know it wouldn’t be the same. We would all still be farmers living in a society where women are second class citizens and we would all have to depend on ourselves.