What were the advantages and disadvantages of the Industrial Revolution in Europe?
The major advantage of the industrial revolution was it provided for the mass production of manufactured goods which could be purchased at much cheaper prices. Textiles, farm implements, etc. which previously had been made piecemeal were suddenly easily accessible and at much cheaper prices than had been the case earlier. When combined with the reduction in food prices as a result of the Agricultural revolution, people had more disposable income and in general a higher standard of living.
The major disadvantage was the harsh treatment--if not indignities--suffered by laborers in factories. Whereas work had previously been a source of pride, one now was reduced to simplistic repetitive work, normally for menial wages. One was often required to work as much as twelve to fourteen hours per day, six days per week. The work was not only boring and repetitive, but also dangerous, as little concern was given to worker's safety. Workers who were injured or even killed on the job were easily replaced. T
A major disadvantage that resulted was the implementation of child labor. Wages were so poor that often entire families, even young children were forced to work in factories. In England children worked in coal mines underground where they were subjected to sexual abuse as well as brutal working conditions. The following description of a seventeen year old girl is illustrative:
I never went to day school; I go to Sunday School, but I cannot read or write. I go to pit at five o’clock in the morning and come out at five in the evening. I get my breakfast of porridge and milk first; I take my dinner with me, a cake and eat it as I go. I do not stop or rest any time for the purpose; I get noth8ing else until I get home. And then have potatoes and meat, not every day meat. I hurry in the clothes I have now got on, trousers and ragged jacket; the bald place upon my head is made by thrusting the courves [coal wagons]; my legs have never swelled, but sisters’ did when they went to mill; I hurry the courves a mile and more underground and back; they weigh 300, I hurry eleven a day. I wear a belt and chain in the workings to get the courves out. The putters [miners] I work for are naked except their caps; they pull off all their clothes. I seem them at work when I go up; sometimes they beat me if I am not quick enough, with their hands; they strike me upon my back; the boys take liberties with me; sometimes they pull me about; I am the only girt in the pit, there are about 20 boys and 15 men, all the men are naked; I would rater work in ill than in coal pit.