The Market Revolution, Industrialization, and New Technologies

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What did the First and Second Industrial Revolutions have in common?

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Both the First and Second Industrial Revolutions made extensive use of new technologies. In the First Industrial Revolution, steam was used to replace work done by either manpower or horsepower. The Second Industrial Revolution saw the rise of steel. Steel machine parts were more reliable and less likely to break.

Both Industrial Revolutions also heavily influenced the transportation industries of their time. Steam power was instrumental in creating the steamboat and locomotive. Steel tracks made the railroad safer and more efficient in the Second Industrial Revolution.

Both Industrial Revolutions also helped to create a need for raw materials. Both the steam industry and the steel industry needed coal: this created mining booms all over the world. Imperial nations seeking to create more industrial opportunities for workers looked overseas for more raw materials. The West colonized small islands in the Pacific in order to use them as coaling stations for their ships; if not for interest in steam power, the interest in these small islands would have been greatly diminished. Both Industrial Revolutions led to mass production, which led to cheaper products for the masses; however, they also led to environmental degradation in the form of mining runoff and air pollution from factories that used coal.

Both Industrial Revolutions also limited the work of the craftsman and led to the rise of the factory worker and unskilled labor. Workers were now treated as another part of the machine that could be easily replaced if it was destroyed or worn out. This led to strikes, unions, and, in some cases, violence as workers tried to make their lives better by demanding better pay and safer working conditions. While the individual craftsman was employed in work that could be dangerous, he had a skill that allowed him to make a product from start to finish.

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In certain ways, the First and Second Industrial Revolutions can be seen on a continuum rather than as radically different phenomena. Although the first was more dramatic in the way it shaped demographic and socioeconomic factors, many trends were common to both.

The first common trend was urbanization. In both cases, changing technology favored the growth of mass production, requiring workers and manufacturing to cluster in cities rather than being dispersed in the countryside. In both cases, large companies were often surrounded by "company towns" with a single dominant employer.

Another common trend was that both offered unskilled and semi-skilled workers a path into the middle class. Factory jobs paid much more than agriculture work. Increased efficiency in agricultural production in both periods meant that fewer workers in food production were required as a percentage of the population, something that also contributed to rural depopulation.

Both revolutions were grounded economically in the use of capital investment. Increasing productivity due to technological advances led to the opportunity for capitalists to become very wealthy.

Infrastructure improvement, especially in communications and transportation, facilitated the economic growth of both periods, with governments often focused on encouraging the infrastructure and legal frameworks to support business growth. Improved power technologies were important in both periods.

Both periods were ones of significant social upheaval as changing economic landscapes led to shifts in power. In both periods, governments became more democratic.

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Both the First and Second Industrial Revolutions saw the use of machine tools. In the First Industrial Revolution, hand production was replaced by machines. In the Second Industrial Revolution, widespread use of machines was observed.

In both the First and Second Industrial Revolutions steam power was used to provide energy in the factories and in the development of the machine tools required for the operations.

Technological inventions such as the electric telegraph were used in both the First and Second Industrial Revolutions.

The First and Second Industrial Revolutions saw the use of steamships and locomotives in the transport of both raw materials and finished goods.

Steelmaking processes were developed in both the First and Second Industrial Revolution because of the increasing need of steel products in making of the tools and transport facilities.

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The First Industrial Revolution and the Second Industrial Revolution had some things in common. Both the First Industrial Revolution and the Second Industrial Revolution involved the use of machines instead of hand tools. Machines were used to make various products in each instance. 

Another similarity between the First Industrial Revolution and the Second Industrial Revolution was the impact they had on workers. Workers no longer worked in small, worker-friendly environments. They worked in large, impersonal factories. Working conditions were poor in the factories. Workers had low pay, long hours, and unsafe working conditions. It was harder for workers to improve their situation individually, which gave rise to the formation of labor unions. The labor unions tried to help workers collectively improve the working conditions in the factories.

Both the First industrial Revolution and the Second Industrial Revolution led to new products being produced. Some of these products helped farmers do their work quicker and easier. Some of the new products made it easier and quicker to do household chores. These products helped the economy grow, and they gave people more free time.

There are similarities between the First Industrial Revolution and the Second Industrial Revolution.

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The first industrial revolution was largely about creating more effecient methods of production in different industries such as agriculture, manufacturing,transportation, etc. through the development of machinery. These machines were able to create less need for a large scale, costly, work force.

The Second Revolution was tied into the first Industrial Revolution as it was a time of utilizing and refining many of the methods in the first revolution in order to use them in the means of large scale consumer production. 

Two revolutions dealing with the same final means, however, doing so in stages. The first revolution created the means with which later generations would labor. Each of these times in history was more deadicated to production effeciency than to well-being of human labor and conditions.

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The similarity between the two Industrial Revolutions is that they both involved an increase in the degree to which machines were being used to do tasks that had once been done in other ways.  Yes, there were differences in that the earlier Industrial Revolution was more about things capital goods like steam engines while the second was about consumer goods.  But, in both cases, the main thing that was going on was an increase in the use of machinery.  This is what they have in common and what makes it legitimate to call both of these "Industrial Revolutions."

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