Industrial Revolution

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With reference to Britain, what are some problems that resulted from the Industrial Revolution?

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Many different social and political problems ensued from the British Industrial Revolution. They include:

Agricultural Efficiency: The combination of the new methods of the Agricultural Revolution of the eighteenth century with the new technology of the Industrial Revolution made agriculture far more efficient. Although this brought many benefits, including the ability to feed a larger population, this also meant that a far smaller labor force was needed, reducing the number of agricultural jobs. Also, new trends in agriculture made farming large areas more profitable than small tracts, leading to the Inclosure Acts and Highland Clearances that drove small farmers off tracts of common land to make way for more efficient large-scale farms.

Population Growth and Urbanization: The increased food supplies allowed Britain to support a larger population. As well as changes in the raw number of people, there was also a great shift from the countryside to the city, created by the push of declining opportunities for rural work and increased factory jobs. This led to the creation of massive industrial slums, particularly in northern manufacturing towns.

Environmental Degradation: Much of the Industrial Revolution was fueled by coal. This led to local environmental degradation as well as air pollution. Another major environmental and public health issue was that cities did not have water or sewage systems that could cope with the vast influx of people, leading to raw human waste being dumped in open sewers and a rise in epidemic diseases. Industrial waste also polluted rivers and groundwater. 

Inhumane Working Conditions: Few labor laws existed to protect the workers during the Industrial Revolution. Child labor was common, with young children working 12 or 14 hours shifts in mines and factories. Much of the factory work was dangerous.

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