The Market Revolution, Industrialization, and New Technologies

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What are some positive and negative effects of the Industrial Revolution on society?

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One positive effect on society the Industrial Revolution had was the growth of cities. Before then, most people lived in rural settings and focused on farming. Once manufacturing took hold in cities, so did the jobs associated with manufacturing, and by extension the movement of people in order to secure those jobs. As a consequence of rising populous centers, there were some improvements in certain crucial aspects of society, such as education.

Some more positive effects that resulted from the Industrial Revolution included a more stable economy and the creation of the middle class. Farming relied heavily on climate and weather, which caused major issues when it came to selling and trading. Now, people could be consistently employed and afford to support government programs. This improved infrastructure and (again) education.

However, there were numerous negative effects on society as well. One in particular were the working conditions. This was before positive labor relations were emphasized, so employees were generally treated as subhuman, suffering from intense working hours and overall poor treatment. Pollution also began to swell in these towns, which caused numerous health issues and a general unclean environment, both to work and to live in.

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The positive effects of the Industrial Revolution mainly lied in the economic growth it generated across much of the nation.  The revolution fundamentally transformed the nature of the country's economy from an agrarian-centric one to an industrialized one.  With that transformation came hundreds of thousands of new jobs that would pay more than agricultural jobs and that would facilitate greater expansion of the economy.  The United States' industrial capacity would grow to dwarf that of every other country in the world -- a key factor in the ultimate resolution of the Second World War -- while providing, by then, millions of jobs.

The negative effects of the Industrial Revolution were considerable.  The dehumanizing conditions characteristic of many factories, the abuse of children for cheap labor, the physical dangers associated with machinery condensed into confined spaces all combined for abysmal conditions, leading directly to the rise of organized labor as a major force in the U.S. economy.  Another major negative ramification of the Industrial Revolution was the substantial environmental devastation that would result, and that remains a major problem today.  Factories routinely drained their toxic wastes into lakes and into the ocean, polluting water supplies and damaging ecosystems.  Air pollution, a product of factories and the massive proliferation of motorized vehicles rolling off of the automobile assembly lines industrialization enabled contributed the development of respiratory problems among many people. 

The United States would not have become a global power if not for the advantages of the Industrial Revolution.  That economic growth, however, came with a serious price in terms of environmental degradation.

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The positive effect of the industrial revolution was that people did not have to depend on farming, which is really an unstable profession.  The negative effect was that they had to depend on employers, especially factories, and the work was often unhealthy.

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The most important positive effect of the Industrial Revolution, particularly in the long term, has been that it has given us all sorts of material goods.  The Industrial Revolution made it easier to make various kinds of products (starting with clothing) much more cheaply.  This means anyone can afford things that were rare before the Industrial Revolution.

The major negative effect was that the Industrial Revolution caused bad conditions for the working class.  They had to work in very poor conditions for low wages.  They lived in cramped and unhealthy apartments in dirty cities.

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What were the positive and negative effects of the Industrial Revolution?  

The Industrial Revolution is a unique time period in history, in the undeniable way that it single-handedly formed much of the Western world we know today. Spreading across continental Europe and America from the 1760s until the 1840s, the Industrial Revolution is most commonly associated with English history, and in this answer I will be referring mostly to the positive and negative impacts the revolution had on England. However, it is often difficult to differentiate between what constitutes a positive or negative impact, as changes that heralded wealth and power for some came at the cost of suffering and starvation for others. Due to this, I will simply list some of the impacts of the Industrial Revolution, with some commentary on who benefited and who were damaged by these changes.

Industrialization: The inventions of steam power and automated or machinery-assisted manufacturing became widespread in the Industrial Revolution. This meant that companies were able to manufacture products at an unprecedented speed and cost. This was positive in that it created a wealthy business class of company owners who were often distinct from the aristocracy that had previously held much of England's wealth. However, this put workers into far more dangerous environments of moving machinery and noxious fumes without any of our later health and safety precautions, leading many to become injured and thereby lose their employment and potentially lives.

Urbanization: Industrialization, however, was not felt just in factories but in the fields as well. New agricultural inventions removed much of the need for manpower while increasing a field's yield. This was simultaneously positive, in that it provided more food for England's rapidly growing population, and negative, in that it left most farmers unemployed. Many whose families had tilled the earth for generations were forced to move into the city in search of work, swelling London's population to breaking point. We can still see the urbanization of the Industrial Revolution in almost every Western country to this date, yet the rapidity with which London grew meant that housing quickly became overcrowded and food often scarce. The influx of workers and the lack of unionization meant that workers also had little to no rights, as urbanization meant that supply quickly outweighed the demand for workers.

Decline of Pastoralism: The Industrial Revolution also gave rise to large cultural changes across Europe. Pre-industrial England, which had always relied on agriculture, was also culturally dominated by the countryside and the pastoralism it inspired. With the rise of the Industrial Revolution, much green landscape gave way to gray factories and overpopulated towns. Romanticism was a literary and artistic movement that attempted to reject this new urban landscape with a focus on the purity of the rural past and its bucolic simplicity. Karl Marx similarly wrote against the injustice and danger of the Industrial Revolution, holding that workers were being abused by their rich employers and encouraging the oppressed proletariat to rise up against this bourgeois class.

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What were the positive and negative effects of the Industrial Revolution?  

The Industrial Revolution ushered in sweeping changes, many of which still resonate in our society today. Let us look at a few of these changes, which I have grouped under the headings "positive" and "negative."

Positive: The Industrial Revolution accompanied what was known as the "Great Deflation," which was a drastic lowering of prices on manufactured goods and foodstuffs. Part of this was due to the new efficiency with which industrialists produced first capital goods and then consumer goods. People had access to cheap manufactured goods that changed their standard of living. The Industrial Revolution made businesses more productive, contributed to major scientific advances in energy, transportation, and medicine, and, in the case of the United States, made the nation the wealthiest in the world.

Negative: All of these changes came a tremendous human cost. The Industrial Revolution flourished alongside laissez-faire ideology that militated against the kinds of regulations that minimized this cost. Workers labored under difficult, even dangerous conditions and more disciplined schedules than before. Children were thrust into factories, mines, and other workplaces to perform cheap labor. In most countries, the Industrial Revolution led to a new plutocratic class that reaped the benefits of economic expansion far more than the working class, who lived on the edge of poverty. Large monopolistic corporations, known at the time as "trusts," controlled many industries, setting prices and eliminating the competition that supposedly underlay industrial capitalism. So many of the effects of the Industrial Revolution on the lives of ordinary people were mixed at best.

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