Effects of the Industrial Revolution What are some positive effects and the negative effects of the Industrial Revolution on society?

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kipling2448's profile pic

kipling2448 | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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The positive effects of the Industrial Revolution mainly lied in the economic growth it generated across much of the nation.  The revolution fundamentally transformed the nature of the country's economy from an agrarian-centric one to an industrialized one.  With that transformation came hundreds of thousands of new jobs that would pay more than agricultural jobs and that would facilitate greater expansion of the economy.  The United States' industrial capacity would grow to dwarf that of every other country in the world -- a key factor in the ultimate resolution of the Second World War -- while providing, by then, millions of jobs.

The negative effects of the Industrial Revolution were considerable.  The dehumanizing conditions characteristic of many factories, the abuse of children for cheap labor, the physical dangers associated with machinery condensed into confined spaces all combined for abysmal conditions, leading directly to the rise of organized labor as a major force in the U.S. economy.  Another major negative ramification of the Industrial Revolution was the substantial environmental devastation that would result, and that remains a major problem today.  Factories routinely drained their toxic wastes into lakes and into the ocean, polluting water supplies and damaging ecosystems.  Air pollution, a product of factories and the massive proliferation of motorized vehicles rolling off of the automobile assembly lines industrialization enabled contributed the development of respiratory problems among many people. 

The United States would not have become a global power if not for the advantages of the Industrial Revolution.  That economic growth, however, came with a serious price in terms of environmental degradation.

pohnpei397's profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The most important positive effect of the Industrial Revolution, particularly in the long term, has been that it has given us all sorts of material goods.  The Industrial Revolution made it easier to make various kinds of products (starting with clothing) much more cheaply.  This means anyone can afford things that were rare before the Industrial Revolution.

The major negative effect was that the Industrial Revolution caused bad conditions for the working class.  They had to work in very poor conditions for low wages.  They lived in cramped and unhealthy apartments in dirty cities.

litteacher8's profile pic

litteacher8 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The positive effect of the industrial revolution was that people did not have to depend on farming, which is really an unstable profession.  The negative effect was that they had to depend on employers, especially factories, and the work was often unhealthy.

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