What are five developments or major changes in Western society that resulted from the Industrial Revolution?

Five major changes in Western society that resulted from the Industrial Revolution are the widespread reliance on fossil energy, the creation of new life-changing technologies, England's rise as the most powerful Empire, the English language's rise as the global lingua franca, and the brutal mechanization of war.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

It is best to first consider the broader impacts of the Industrial Revolution and then see how these developments led to specific changes in Western society.

At the most basic level, the Industrial Revolution ushered in perhaps the most significant technological transformation in history. The discovery of massive coal deposits...

See
This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Get 48 Hours Free Access

It is best to first consider the broader impacts of the Industrial Revolution and then see how these developments led to specific changes in Western society.

At the most basic level, the Industrial Revolution ushered in perhaps the most significant technological transformation in history. The discovery of massive coal deposits in England—in places like Northumberland, Yorkshire, the Midlands, and Kent—precipitated a fossil fuel revolution, in which all of Europe would come to rely on new energy regimes. Steam power and the invention of the steam engine led to the creation of new technologies that would fundamentally reshape European civilization and the mechanics of modern life. The locomotive, steamship, electricity, urbanization—all of this was made possible because of coal power and industrial energy production.

The emergence of these new technologies, as well as the improvement of old ones (galleys, weapons, and the telegraph) further cemented Europe’s place on the world stage. Because the Industrial Revolution happened in England first, by the 1830s the country had fully committed itself to the development of factories and industry. By the 1860s, England was in control of the largest empire the world had ever seen and was, for all intents and purposes, the strongest country on the planet. The rise of British power also led to the English language's prominence as the global vernacular, which fundamentally reoriented all world affairs and the global economy to fit British imperial interests.

Another consequence of industrial development was the advent of mechanized mass killing. It was during the Crimean War (1853-56) that Britain first displayed the advantages that industrialized warfare could have on the field of battle. By deploying steam-powered ships in the Black Sea in their engagements with the Russian navy, the British dominated. From this point, the development of more efficient and destructive weaponry, as well as the increasing sophistication of the means to produce it, became a common feature in European factories everywhere. With the outbreak of the First World War, Europe would be fully exposed to the abject brutalities that industrialized warfare and “scorched-earth” fighting could produce. But by this time it was too late: the necessity of maintaining high levels of military production outstripped its potential costs, and the unprecedented destruction of the twentieth century's world wars is the unfortunate legacy of the Industrial Revolution’s contribution to military history.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team