What were the advantages and the disadvantages of the industrial revolution?

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pohnpei397's profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The major advantage of the Industrial Revolution was that it was the beginning of a wave of new material goods that could be used to improve people’s lives.  Early in the Industrial Revolution, for example, cloth came to be made much more cheaply than it had been before.  This helped people’s lives because it allowed them to have more clothes than they could previously afford (at a time when people did not often have very much clothing).  The Industrial Revolution later brought about many more kinds of goods as well.

The major disadvantages were largely social.  The Industrial Revolution brought huge numbers of people out of the countryside and into big cities to work in factories.  Their jobs were often dangerous and did not pay much.  They lived in very poor housing conditions.  The cities were very dirty and dangerous, both in terms of health hazards and in terms of crime.  People were often disconnected from the extended families who had previously helped them with their lives.

Thus, the Industrial Revolution was good in that it brought material benefits, but it was very hard on many people whose lives were changed by it. 

mkoren's profile pic

mkoren | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted on

There were advantages and disadvantages of the Industrial Revolution. One advantage was that it allowed for more products to be made. Since these products were made by machine, they were made much faster than in the past. This helped our economy grow. These products were usually less expensive than custom-made products. Another advantage is that some of the products that were developed helped to make life easier for people. This gave people more free time. It also became easier for people and for products to move from place to place. The development of the steam engine helped this occur.

There were disadvantages of the Industrial Revolution. Businesses grew really fast, and much of this growth was unregulated. Working conditions were very poor. People worked in unsafe and in unhealthy environments. Hours were long, and pay was low. There was very little workers could do to change these conditions. The Industrial Revolution also saw an increase in pollution. The air became more polluted as more factories were built. Many people came to the cities for the jobs that were available. This led to overcrowding in the cities. Many city governments struggled to deal successfully with this increased growth.

There were advantages and disadvantages to the Industrial Revolution.

lorrainecaplan's profile pic

Lorraine Caplan | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

A few other advantages and disadvantages might be worthy of mention here. 

First, implicit within the answer above, the idea of productivity came into its own in the Industrial Revolution, which was a two-edged sword, I think. While making nations more productive than ever before, providing more and more cheaper goods to people, leading naturally to the assembly line that Ford pioneered, it also created appalling working conditions for people just in terms of time spent on the job and expectations of productivity. The invention of electricity exacerbated this, making it possible for people to work even longer hours, indeed, around the clock. As we all know now, this is simply not good for anyone. I also think this drive for productivity led to the creation of unions, which some judge a good thing and other not. 

Second, from an environmental perspective, the Industrial Revolution was a disaster, with a direct line from that era to today's era of global warming.  The use of fossil fuels increased exponentially during this time, with no awareness of the consequences for our health or for our planet.  And in fact, right now, as we speak, other nations are experiencing their own Industrial Revolutions, increasing their use of fossil fuels, further contributing to climate change problems.  We, of course, were able to have this revolution without guilt, since we did not know any better, and now that we have reaped the benefits of it, it seems unreasonable to deny these benefits to other nations, an interesting environmental quandary. 

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