Describe early industrialization and its impact on urbanization, immigration and the great social movements of the day. Include the development of the “cult of domesticity” and its ramifications on womanhood.

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Industrialization involved, by its very nature, a radical restructuring of society. The Industrial Revolution originated in England, before gradually spreading to the United States and the rest of Europe. From its very beginnings, it involved a demographic transformation, favoring the growth of cities. This is because industrial economies require large concentrations of population. As more and more jobs became located in cities, what resulted was a large migration into those urban areas. Workers migrated both from the countryside and from other countries. Thus, urbanization tended to be a defining factor of industrialization.

Industrialization had other far reaching effects as well. It disrupted traditional forms of social stratification. For example, consider France before the French Revolution, organized into the three estates: the nobility, the clergy, and the Third Estate, which comprised the rest of the population. With the shift from a primarily agrarian economy to a manufacturing one, social status became defined according to the modern idea of class (which itself reflected the Industrial Economy). Gradually, as the new industrial elite intermarried into those older traditional power structures, this new industrial image of the upper class became defined. Furthermore, be aware that this concept of class—and also of class consciousness—was a critical influence on the Cult of Domesticity.

Ultimately, industrialization's middle class defined itself in opposition to the working class, as it sought to cultivate a reputation for respectability for itself. Thus, members of the middle class sought to present themselves as cultured and refined. As a whole, they focused heavily on the appearances they presented to one another and to the rest of society. Physical labor, on the other hand, was perceived as the hallmark of the working class. We see these values reflected in the Cult of Domesticity. Idleness was expected of middle and upper class women, and physical labor and employment would have been seen as an affront to their class and femininity.

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