The industrial revolution and the railway brought about dramatic changes in people’s perception and experience of time. We know these events in light of the transformation of subjectivity. The daily lives and mindsets of the people living during this time were altered. In this paper, first I want to introduce the industrial revolution and then introduce the railway.
We know that the Industrial Revolution was a period from 1750 to 1850 where changes in agriculture, manufacturing, mining, transportation, and technology had a profound effect on the social, economic and cultural conditions of the times. In E.P. Thompson’s book Time, Work Discipline and Industrial Capitalism, it’s very interesting to note that Thompson considered the Industrial Revolution as the cite of capitalism and the origin of the idea of “ time= money”.
However, we find in the 14th century that for primitive people, the measurement of time is commonly related to the familiar process in the cycle of work or of domestic chores. It’s an uncommonly well-regulated economy, but is still influenced by a “natural” life. First, fishing and seafaring people must integrate their lives with the tides, second, hunters must employ certain hours of the night to set their snares. However, what’s a regular pattern?
There is a sense in which it is more humanly comprehensible than timed labor, and the community in which task-orientation is common appears to show least demarcation between work and life. In the 17th century, employer became employed and time eventually became money.
And in the 18th century, synchronization of labor increased. Factory productivity increased and the time people worked increased. In the New time discipline, also called ”work discipline”, economic growth became the most important thing. At the same time, growth or change of culture, and the growth of social consciousness, like the growth of a poet’s mind, can never, in the last analysis, be planned.
In all these ways- by the division of labor, the superivision of labor, bells and clocks, money incentives, preachings and schoolings, the suppression of fairs and sports – new labour habits were formed, and a new time – discipline was imposed.
It’s easy to imagine that strength is a word for someone who is used to a taste-oriented time to begin living in a clock-oriented society. In Schivelbusch’s book The Railway Journey, I was interested in the topic of passengers (or the public) and how they adapted to the changes in time and space. In this book, three ”digressions” were committed to study how the term “shock” was deeply rooted in the ears of the people as train travel became a part of the public vocabulary. More than psychological, people seemed to feel that travel on a train for their own physiology would have some impact, which the students said could create a “railway spine.” This is similar to the “mouse hand” of today.
They believed that sitting constantly for a long time on the train cars sends shocks to the spine and has a negative impact. I think the different understanding of the railway culture between Europe and the US is huge. The european railway became common after the industrialization of the nineteenth century.
There were a large number of raw materials, products, and personal transport demands. This demand could not be solved with traditional carriage techniques, so the railway became important. The railway in Europe is used to connect different regions to development. In the United States, there is a vast waiting hall filled with people waiting for the train with a variety of things to see, including railways to explore. For Europe, the railway began as a supplement to the old carriage transport but later became a mainstream mode of transport. This was a process of adaption.
The American railway did not have the same history, so there is no old baggage. Before the railway, the US relied on the river and steamboats. Repair of the train cars in the US was simple. The cabin of the steamboat was large and spacious, and all seats were facing in the same direction. European repair was more difficult. There was a coach and a compartment for the carriage. In the early days of the train, the carriage had many separate rooms and each room has its own door, and seating inside was face-to-face. Although many such small box rooms were in the train, these boxes were all independent of each other.
The unique cabin was a product of a different culture. In the US compartments, because of the large space, the passenger was also very adaptable, and experienced no psychological change. However, European trains were split into small boxes, and most people did not see the other passengers. The passengers, after the initial stimulation and fear, became numb and bored of train travel, so it became an excellent reading time. Moreover, I would like to discuss the railway and the city.
The author continues the discussion of the psychological impact of trains on the public discussion by talking about a feature of the 19th century train station: the two different design styles of the waiting hall and the platforms. The waiting room, as was later used to protect train-moving public, a so called ”stimulation barrier,” forms a natural self-protective numbness in the public. It is deliberately designed to become a part of the city’s style in its use of stone to stimulate public. In contrast, the functional structure of the platform is an aesthetic one.
Today, they use modern glass and steal building materials, because the public has become accustomed to train travel. There is no longer a need for a separate waiting room and fancy platform design. The gradual integration allowed the passengers to travel freely in the design of the platform, and the waiting hall has become increasingly smaller.
In conclusion, the industrial revolution and the railway both brought about not only daily change but also mental change. Now, if we haven’t studied the industrial revolution and the development of railway process, it is easy to forget the impact they had on people’s minds back then. It was a very important change in the history of human lives.