In what three ways did the Industrial Revolution change society?

Expert Answers

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

There are numerous ways in which the Industrial Revolution has changed societies around the world. I will consider three ways in which the Industrial Revolution has shaped the U.S. society and its relation to other nations. The Industrial Revolution, in the terms of the U.S. society, has caused more wealth...

Unlock
This Answer Now

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

Start your 48-Hour Free Trial

There are numerous ways in which the Industrial Revolution has changed societies around the world. I will consider three ways in which the Industrial Revolution has shaped the U.S. society and its relation to other nations. The Industrial Revolution, in the terms of the U.S. society, has caused more wealth disparities between the working class and the owning class in general, has led to a sky rocketing in pollution and global climate crisis, and has resulted in a concentration of the U.S.'s population in urban settings. The Industrial Revolution prompted a shift away from primarily agrarian and artisan societies into societies based on mass production. This mass production requires a mass of workers. Greedy, profit driven people with access to wealth and resources quickly orchestrated a system in which masses of people are required to work long and tedious hours for very little pay, and the result is that the boss/company owner reaps the benefits of the work of the working class. As this shift occurred, small rural farmers and craftsmen were unable to continue to make their livings and many were forced to flee to cities where they found grueling work for minuscule wages. The result became the creation of densely packed urban centers where mass production reigned. As a result of this industrial mass production, pollution from factories and plants have caused severe global pollution.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

While the Industrial Revolution changed society in far more than just three ways, let us look at some of the largest changes.

Perhaps the most important change was the mass production of goods. Previously, it might have taken a leatherworker an entire day to make a pair of shoes: you had to pay for the shoes themselves as well as the time needed to make them, which made them very expensive. With the onset of the Industrial Revolution, by contrast, a factory could make hundreds of shoes in a day. This dropped the cost considerably: mass-produced goods today are far cheaper than they would be if they were made one at a time.

With the growth of mass production, business owners needed many more workers to run their factories and help machines produce goods. This resulted in the major growth of cities and the depopulation of rural areas, a trend that has continued to this day. People who had previously worked on farms could make more money by moving to cities, thereby helping develop a middle class. However, many cities were not prepared for this mass migration, and crowded conditions and disease outbreaks were common.

However, the Industrial Revolution also demonstrated the abuses of power: workers often had bad pay or dangerous working conditions, and they had to unionize and stand together to get better salaries. This led to the labor movement, which is responsible for aspects of work that we take for granted today, like weekends off and a 40-hour workweek. It also changed political ideologies, helping to develop worker-oriented politics ranging from pure communism to democratic socialism. Today, many nations' political divides can be broadly organized under the categories of worker-oriented (left-wing politics) and business-oriented (right-wing politics).

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The Industrial Revolution changed society in that it created a lot of pollution, especially air pollution from the burning of coal. Although medieval London had filthy streets, at least the air quality was good. After the Industrial Revolution, air quality worsened and people started to complain of more respiratory ailments. Another thing that changed was the manner in which entire families went to work. Factories often hired men, women, and children. The women and children were paid less because they were thought to need less money because they were not the "breadwinner" of a family. This disrupted the traditional family dynamic in working-class families of mothers who stayed at home and children who helped with home chores. Another change after the Industrial Revolution would be consumer habits. Mass-produced goods were often cheaply made and readily disposed of for new goods. This contrasts with the days of the artisans and professionals who often made consumer goods before the Industrial Revolution.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team