How did the second Industrial Revolution affect American society?

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rrteacher | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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The second phase of the Industrial Revolution saw the rise of industrial capitalism, and with it the emergence of titans of industry like John D. Rockefeller, Andrew Carnegie and the financiers, like J.P. Morgan, who backed them. Their successes were evidence of one change accompanying industrial growth, the growing accumulation of capital in the hands of massive corporations.

Other effects were evident, as well. The United States went from a basically rural society to a basically urban society as people flocked to cities for jobs in factories and offices. Those who did farm now did so not for their own communities, but to sell to faraway markets, literally feeding the growing cities.  Workers worked in increasingly rationalized, standardized workspaces, and saw their hours increased and their jobs (except for the slew of maintenance jobs requiring mechanical expertise) stripped of autonomy. Many workers, as is now well known, were children.

New technologies, particularly the railroads, encouraged growth and connected people and markets that had previously been isolated. Cities, or at least the more afflluent districts, were now lit by electric lights. The period also witnessed enormous social movements, particularly labor unions, almost unknown before the Civil War. They mobilized workers to contend for improved working conditions and pay, though they were fiercely resisted by management and state and federal governments, who saw them as dominated by dangerous radicals, including socialists and anarchists.

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