What Was The Industrial Revolution?

Air pollution rose during the Industrial Revolution, leading to the formulation of the first modern environmental laws.

What Was The Industrial Revolution?

The industrial revolution is a period that witnessed the transition from a handicraft economy to an economy dominated by machines and technological innovations. The industrial revolution began in Britain and gradually spread to Europe and took place from the mid-1770 to mid-1880. The revolution affected major sectors of the economy including textile, agriculture, metal manufacture, transportation and, social and economic policies in Europe.

Origins, Spread And Development

The industrial revolution began in Britain in early 1770s. Before the revolution, most people lived in small communities in rural Britain. Their daily lives revolved around agriculture. Most people engaged in subsistence production and produced their clothes, food, and tools. Britain was the birthplace of the industrial revolution because it had large deposits of coal mines, iron ore and it was politically stable. Furthermore, Britain was a colonial power and its overseas colonies particularly in Africa served as sources of raw material. Aware of their head start, Britain banned the exportation of all forms of machinery and manufacturing and processing techniques and skilled labor. However, as Britain adopted the use of machines in their industries, British businessmen need for more profits drove them to other European markets. Belgium particularly benefited from British merchants and became the second county to experience industrial revolution after Britain. As Britain and Belgium were transitioning, France was expiring the French Revolution and was slow in adopting the revolution.

Technological Breakthroughs And Inventions

Agriculture and textile industries experienced the first breakthrough in innovative technologies. Before mechanization, merchants provided raw materials and tools of trade and finally picked up the finished goods from one house to another; this chain resulted in time wasting and inefficiency. The spinning jenny developed by James Hargreaves became played a significant role in transforming the textile industry. Samuel Compton later modified the Spinning Jenny to a spinning mule that was more efficient. Methods to cast iron using coke-fueled rather than charcoal-fired was also introduced. In the 1850s, Henry Bessemer developed a cheap and efficient method of mass-producing steel. The invention of the steam engine proved to be of much significance; the engine was used to pump water from mines, power machinery, ships, and locomotives.

Changes In labor Structures And Standards Of Living, And Urbanization

The industrialization period was characterized by increase firms and raw materials. The demand for labor increased as firms expanded. Initially, owners who were the managers of these firms viewed employees as nothing more than a source of cheap labor. As the period progressed, employees began forming unions that advocated for better working conditions and payments. Strikes and go-slows became frequent as employees gained the upper hand through mass bargaining coupled with the fact that skilled labor was hard to replace. As employers paid more, the cost of life changed and cities began to develop. People moved to urban environments in search of better jobs and social amenities. Child labor became rampant as they were cheaper than grownups and parents viewed employment a better option than education.

Efficiency And Productivity, And The Effects Of The Revolution On The Environment

The use of machines and skilled labor introduced efficiency into the production systems. Machines proved to be more productive than human labor; they were effective and more efficient. Specialization and division of labor meant that employees were allocated specific parts of the production chain where they were most productive. However, the revolution had adverse effects on the environment. The mining of coal led to large dugouts that were left uncovered; there was massive pollution from coal engines and firms. Deforestation increased and water sources became polluted from factory wastes.

Aftermath And Legacy

The industrial revolution is considered the birthplace of modern industrialization, it marked a significant transition of the world economies, particularly European economies. Technological innovations spread across the globe, and there was mass sharing of knowledge and technology. The revolution paved the way for the second revolution in the 19th century that was marked by the use of robots, airplanes, and advanced technologies.


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