In what specific way did the Industrial Revolution change the U.S. economy?  How is the Information Revolution changing the economy once again?

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enotechris's profile pic

enotechris | College Teacher | (Level 2) Senior Educator

Posted on

The biggest change in the economy during the Industrial Revolution was the transformation from it being agriculturally based to manufacturing based.  "Cottage Industries" existed long before industrialization, where small groups of individuals would fabricate something; mostly these activities had to do with some kind of textiles.  However, textile factories could produce textiles of better quality more cheaply, and could pay higher wages for the work.  In fact, it paid better than farming could, so people naturally gravitated to where they could make the most money.

Our current Information Revolution has similarly altered the economy by creating efficiencies within businesses that didn't and couldn't exist before; online ordering and Ebay come to mind.  In terms of an individuals work, no longer must one commute to a central office; the decentralization of the workforce will create more efficiencies (imagine not having to commute back and forth to work) since more time can be spent working.  To be able to find, interpret, and implement information will be the new standard of labor, requiring an extensive skill set, much more so than being a factory worker handling a textile machine or a farmer cultivating a piece of land as in past times.

pohnpei397's profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

Really, this is more opinion than anything (both parts).  Here's mine.

The most specific way that the Industrial Revolution changed the US economy was in the way that it changed people's relationship to their work.  Before the Revolution, people worked mostly at home, at their own pace, and as their own boss.  The Revolution changed all of those things, leaving workers less in control of their lives.

The Information Revolution is changing the economy in somewhat of a similar way.  You can argue that it is contributing to globalization and outsourcing.  The presence of these two things makes people's jobs much less secure and makes them less in control of their lives.

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