How did the Industrial Revolution affect people in how they worked and how they conducted business? A detailed answer.

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timbrady eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In addition to what has been said, I would add that the workers and their work became more "alienated."  Workers used to create a product from start to finish and then market/trade their product, often with someone who also created something from "scratch."  As the means of production came to controlled by fewer and fewer people (capitalists), many workers never saw what they produced; they contribued some small part to manufacturing (think of the workers on the auto assembly line), but never "created" something. They were often exploited (after all, the work they did was so "mechanical" that they could be easily replaced), and their "interchangeability" made them fear for their jobs. 

Perhaps as bad, workers came to see their co-workers not as partners in production, but as threats to their job/advancement.  In addition, the repetitive nature of the work was deadly to the spirit of the worker (it's interesting that Ford modeled his moving "belt" on when he saw the workers at a meat packing plant in Chicago, where the meat "came" to the works ... sort of a "disassembly" line).  He actually had an expert "time" each movements that workers made and set up performance standards for them that were much more interesting in profit than the workers.  (I have a source for the timing function, but it's in a book at school.  I'll try to add it tomorrow.)

If this all sounds like Marx, it is ... check out the link below for more information.

WOW, 2 more answers appeared as I was typing mine ... hopefully I havde added something to them.

M.P. Ossa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

During the industrial revolution, according to Sternberg and other social psychologists, part of the problem with the collective psyche of society was a detachment from the dignity, pride, and uniqueness of their craft.

People began to view machines in a deterministic vs. instrumentalist way. This means that, as a determinist, you automatically assume that the machines and the technology is in complete control and that people are its by-product.

The reason why people viewed technology in a deterministic fashion was because, as the previous editors mentioned, the amount and lack of education of the hired hands made it nearly impossible to understand what the machines were put there to do.

In an instrumentalist view, the machines would have been embraced as tools for resource which go hand in hand with human agency. Yet, the competition of quantity versus quality left little room for analysis in those days.

Hence, we had a highly stressed, overworked and undercompensated society which suddenly became polluted, dusty, and sweaty, in times when we thought the machines would prevent us from that condition in the first place.

Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The consolidation of work and profit became one of the primary ways in which people and business were impacted through the Industrial Revolution.  Factories helped to consolidate workforces and the development of products.  The consolidation of profit happened when more products could be created for greater profit.  The consequence of urbanization followed the factory process, consolidating a workforce into one concentrated area and allowing factory owners a greater pool from which to employ and enhance their profits and the production of their factories.  Individual effort became consolidated, as well.  In stark contrast to the wide ranging and expansive notion of the cottage industry, factories through the Industrial Revolution helped to harness and (yes!) consolidate human freedom in the specialization of production of certain goods and products.

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The answer to this is different in different times and places, but here is a general answer.

The Industrial Revolution made work be more regimented and less skilled.  Instead of working for yourself, at your own pace, you had to work for a boss and work when and how hard that boss told you to.  This made workers feel much less independent than they once had.

As for conducting business, things also became much more impersonal and regimented.  Instead of conducting one's business as boss to a few apprentices and journeymen, a factory owner would now need to manage hundereds of employees.

So, in general, the Industrial Revolution made the workplace much more impersonal and took away the independence of the workers it employed.

Here is a video about the subject:

krishna-agrawala | Student

Industrial revolution refers to the rapid developments that took place in technology and industry during 18th and 19th centuries. The term refers to these changes as well as the period.

Industrial revolution led to many deep rooted changes in the way people lived and worked. Mass-production techniques made possible by the technological development required setting up of large factories with large work force. Also it created new jobs with much greater degree of division of labor, that reduced the skill requirements of jobs that were monotonous. These changes cut down the availability of jobs for skilled artisans, and instead created new jobs in factories.

Unfortunately the job conditions in the factories were very dismal. Though the hours worked by people did not change, the labour force was poorly paid and made to work harder without rest. The monotony of the job made them even more unbearable. The low wages made it impossible for the whole family to live on wages of the grown ups only and the practice of child labour became rampant. Further the relationship between the employers and employee became impersonal and cold, making the employees unmindful of the condition of their employees.

Industrialization led to migration of people from rural areas to centers of industrial production leading to ever increasing urbanization. In these urban areas the labour lived in crowded colonies in very poor sanitary conditions. The poverty forced them to manage with diet that was not sufficiently nutritious and all this took heavy toll of the health of the labor class of people.

Though the the industrial revolution increased the economic production, it benefits were reaped only by the rich owners of the factories who became richer and indulged in conspicuous consumption. This prompted Mark Twain to describe this period of US history as gilded age.

mkcapen1 | Student

I agree with the first editor.  The Industrial Revolution caused more people to move into urban environments and work longer hours.  In the past agricultural workers had worked according to the light cycle.  With the onset of electricity, workers were able to work round the clock shifts.  This schedule created a need for man power at hours that one would normally have been sleeping.  The more a person worked, the greater the output.

The owners of the larger factories had all the rights and the people had few rights.  Initially, child labor laws did not exist so very young children worked jobs that required small hands and bodies.  The workers were often over exhausted and accidents occurred as a result.  Profit was the name of the game for the companies with little regards for their workers.

For the workers it presented the promise of hope.  They were often uneducated people, and many fresh off the boat immigrants, looking to find their fortune in America.  The idea of the new type of work was initially exciting and to many promised hope for their future.

daisy-marie | Student

It made peoples life much easier.