In what ways did industrialization transform the lives of ordinary Americans during the late 19th century and early 20th century?

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pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Industrialization affected the lives of ordinary Americans in many ways.  Let us look at three of these ways.

First, industrialization changed the ways in which Americans experienced work.  Before industrialization, most Americans worked at home as their own bosses.  They were in charge of deciding how and when they worked.  After industrialization, most Americans worked outside the home for someone else.  This meant that they were no longer their own masters.  Instead of deciding when and how they worked, they had to work at the times and in the ways that their bosses specified.  More of them were also doing unskilled work.  Instead of working as skilled artisans, they became cogs in industrial machines.  Both of these trends made them experience their working lives in very different ways than they had previously.

Second, industrialization changed the standard of living for the average American.  Before industrialization, there were relatively few consumer goods and those goods were fairly expensive.  This meant that an American household might not have very many sets of clothing for each member and might not have many material goods.  After industrialization, this changed.  Goods could now be produced in large amounts and therefore became cheaper.  This meant that typical American households were now richer in material goods than they had been.

Finally, industrialization helped to change the location of American life.  Before industrialization, most Americans lived in rural areas or small towns.  These areas tended to be tightly knit in social terms.  That is, people knew one another and had many relationships that tied them together.  After industrialization, Americans moved to cities.  This meant that they were relatively estranged from their neighbors.  Instead of living in small communities where everyone knew one another, they came to live in large, impersonal cities.

All of these were important changes in the lives of average Americans that were brought about by industrialization.

Here's a video that discusses the industrialization of America: 

rachellopez | Student

Industrialization changed Americans lives in many ways. Before, most people had lived in small towns where they knew everybody's names. However, when industrialization cam along more large cities were built with factories and apartments. 

With these new factories people began getting jobs mass producing clothing or weapons, making everything people could buy cheaper and readily available. They began having more restrictions with work because they had someone in charge. They had long work hours in horrible factory conditions, used large machines that were very dangerous, little pay, and spent most of their time there instead of at home.

When they went home it was to a small apartment called tenements and they basically lived in the slums. Back then there were no sewer systems and everything was very dirty. I can't imagine living when cities were first built. Child labor also started in this time which was horrible.

Obviously things have changed for the better. Now we have a lot of new technology that do the most dangerous things for us and cities have become cleaner. In the long run, the industrial revolution was an important event in our history and changed how everyone lived.