How did the Industrial Revolution transform British society?

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larrygates eNotes educator| Certified Educator

British society was impacted by the Industrial Revolution by a restructuring of that society. Previously society had been divided into the nobility and peasantry with a small middle class being part of the latter. With the Industrial Revolution, a new class, the "working class" was created. Additionally, a new definition of wealth developed. Whereas earlier land had been the primary measure of wealth, money and other forms of capital suddenly became the primary measuring stick. Factory owners became the leading citizens of society and were often much more wealthy than members of the "landed gentry." It became commonplace for members of the nobility, often land-poor, to marry their sons and daughters to those of factory owners. Under this arrangement, both sides benefited. The marriage became one of wealth and title.

While this was beneficial to those at the pinnacle of society, those who worked in factories were often subjected to brutal working conditions at very low pay. Returning to the farm was not an option, as new methods of farming had substantially increased production and lowered prices. Only large scale farming was not profitable. Entire families worked in factories, mills, even coal mines, in an attempt to make ends meet. This situation did not exist prior to the advent of the Industrial Revolution.

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The Industrial Revolution transformed British society in a number of ways.  Let us look at a few of the most important of these ways.

First, the Industrial Revolution caused massive urbanization.  People left the country (whether willingly or not) and came to the cities to seek jobs in the new factories.

Second, the Industrial Revolution caused a major change in the nature of work.  Work was no longer done at home (whether in workshops or on farms).  It was no longer done at the worker's own pace.  Instead, it was done in a factory, at the pace set by the bosses.

Finally, the Industrial Revolution changed British politics to some degree.  It started to eat away at the power of the landed class as the capitalists (and later the workers) came to be more politically important.