The Industrial Revolution
1. Describe the impact of industrialization on working class family life and how industrialization affected the relationship between men and women?
2. Explain the development of the agriculture revolution and describe its role in the development of the industrial revolution?
1.The Industrial Revolution radically transformed life for many working class families in England. Many skilled workers such as the hand weavers and tradesmen found themselves unemployed because they could not produce at the rate which the new mechanical looms and such were able. With the end to the cottage industry in which women and children wove cloth in the evenings, families had their extra source of income eliminated.
These radical changes wrought by industrialization forced families into such cities as Manchester and London where they sought employment in the factories and had to live in makeshift residences squeezed into streets without proper sanitary conditions. Whereas the mother was the homemaker and worked in the cottage, perhaps, weaving at night, she now was forced to seek employment in order to supplement the lower wages of her husband, who also lost his trade. Children, too, were unfortunately made to work in order to keep the family from starving. Compounded with this pitiable situation, families worked nearly 16 hours a day. Certainly, under such deplorable economic and social situations, families felt the terrible psychological burden of poverty and deprivation. In addition, many were subjected to diseases were which unknown in the clean countryside.
2. In the agrarian areas, radical changes also took place. Prior to the dawn of technology, those in the rural areas of England led an existence much like that of medieval times. They tended small farms, made their own cloth and ate their own food, visited with neighbors, held festivals, and lived and died in the same area in a closely-knit community of family and longtime friends. But, when the railroad extended across England, this medieval life was altered forever. For, larger farms could now ship their products to the cities. In Thomas Hardy's novel, Tess of the d'Ubervilles, for example, Tess goes to work at a huge dairy farm which ships its milk in the train to London. Also in this novel, there is a description of the new thrashing machine which could employ the women on a large farm that has helped to eliminate the small ones long rented by people like the parents of Tess. In addition, small farmers were further hurt by the Enclosure Acts, a series of acts passed by Parliament between 1750 and 1860, open fields and "wastes"--fens, marshes, rocky land, or moors (areas which could not be cultivated, but on which animals could graze, areas that were indispensable to the peasants for survival) were closed to use by the peasantry.
They hang the man, and flog the woman,
That steals the goose from off the common;
But let the greater villain loose,
That steals the common from the goose. -English folk poem
These Acts, along with the new technology and the train, forced out the small landowners, who resorted to moving into the cities to seek employment in the cities, thus driving down wages as there became a surfeit of workers. One historian writes that the elimination of the small farm,
...led to new practices of agriculture, such as crop rotation, and resulted in a dramatic increase in productivity over time.... Whatever the long term effect, the immediate one was to advantage those fortunate enough to become individual owners and to devastate the peasant class.
While the Industrial Revolution created a new class of capitalists and a rising class of merchants and shopkeepers, it sprouted a desperate and deprived lower class, especially in the major industrial cities of England.
The industrial revolution led to a separation between the workplace and home, changing, accordingly, the roles that men and women played, in the previous cottage system. For example, all the members of an working class family went to work, while, in the middle class families, only men went to work, providing the financial security of their families.
In a working class family, not only the man, but also the woman provided the basic food and clothing for the family. The women also worked in factories, in unhealthy environments, payed usually by the hour to maximize the profits of the factories' owners.
Unlike the women from working class families, the middle class women stayed at home, taking care of homes and their children, allowing their husbands to take care of their families, as providers. The middle class women had little freedom, no education and no career, hence no their own money and their position was inferior to their husbands. The husband was considered the head of the house and the obedience of his wife was a must. In divorce cases, the law was on husband's side and the children went to the father, since he was the provider of the family, the mother gaining limited rights to see the children.