Industrialization and Poverty A History of Destitution During the Industrial Era (1800s-1900s)
Introduction Historically, the Industrial Revolution had a profound and eternalizing effect on the growth of technology from the early 19th century. From the monumental advancements in the production of textiles, steam engines, and iron sprouted monopolies that would then capitalize on exploiting the lower-working classes by paying low wages. It was not uncommon for women and children to work in factories under trying, and often dangerous, conditions (“Industrial Revolution”). These poor conditions would become the inspiration for future artists to create new styles of painting, including modern art. Art itself became a source of which artists could vent their frustrations with society on.
The Transition to Technology Between 1800 and 2000, the world’s per capita income increased by over ten times, and the world’s population increased by over six times (“Industrial Revolution”). The development of steel encouraged the founding of many textile mills, coal factories, railroads used for trade, canals, and many other machines for the purpose of lessening the amount of manual labor required while increasing efficiency. Also due to advances in medical sciences and the advent of new cures for diseases, the average lifespan of humans increased, and exponentially increased the Earth’s population. By the 1820s, the manufacturing of machines used to build more factories spread throughout Europe, sparking the “Industrial Revolution” (“Industrial Revolution”). Although some people’s living conditions improved due to this modernization, the changes in social statuses, which would emerge as a repercussion, would make a dramatic impact on the social hierarchy of Europe.
The Land Enclosure Acts The “Land Enclosure Acts” were a sequence of laws passed in Europe which enclosed and relinquished common lands used by poor farmers and peasants in between 1773 and 1882. These laws entailed the stripping of numerous farmers’ rights of cultivating or raising livestock on common land, or land that other people have jurisdiction over, and giving the ownership to wealthy aristocrats and capitalists (“Industrial Revolution”). This resulted in the eviction of thousands of poor farmers who could not retain their land, and were forced to pool into large, industrialized cities marred with poverty, pollution, pestilence, and over crowdedness. The living conditions for these workers were degraded so much, that families were forced to share a single bed (“Industrial Revolution”). Eventually the surge in population of poor civilians provided a large workforce for industries, and sparked the first phase of the Industrial Revolution.
Unemployment and Rioting The great boom in industry eventually lessened the need for artisans, or skilled English workers, due to quicker and more efficient machines replacing them in factories (“Industrial Revolution”). Many restless and unemployed craftsmen and workers turned to violent measures by destroying factories and machines. This group became known as “luddutes”, who were finally dispersed by the British militia. “Need”, by KatheKollowitz (1893-1901) “The Potato Eaters” by Van Gogh, 1885 Photo of Trade Union, Circa 1912 The luddites’ riots eventually inspired the formation of labor unions, or organizations of workers that banded together in order to improve working conditions in factories, and to negotiate wages and rules in the workplace (“Trade Union”).
Pictures A Watt steam engine, which was fuelled using coal A woman worker pulling a tub of coal A spinning jenny. This made yarn far easier to produce. “Puffing Billy”, an early train locomotive A spinning mule, which produced yarn A coal mine in the US, early 1900s
Foreign Affairs The impact that the Industrial Revolution in Europe had in foreign nations was disastrous for the indigenous people. India, which was under the influence of Britain, was forced to destroy all of its cotton mills, and work by sending Britain raw goods such as cotton, which was abundant in India (“Industrial Revolution”). This resulted in European countries becoming the leading textile product manufacturers in the world, which greatly boosted their economy. As for India, however, major famines in Bengal and other areas of colonial India occurred as a result of this savage abuse. In Ireland, British laws stripped the Irish of many civil rights, including severely limiting their land. The neglect of Ireland shortly after instigated the “Irish Potato Famine”, a vicious famine caused by potato blight that rendered potatoes inedible, an Irish staple, and would claim a catastrophic 20-25% of the total Irish population (Mokyr). These atrocities committed as a result of industrialization left some impressions that are still visible within politics and economy today.
The Controversy It was widely argued whether the Industrial Revolution was necessary, or it was “good” for society, and still is today. It is inarguable that, without undergoing it, technology would not be as advanced as it is now. Unfortunately, this argument can work two ways; the Industrial Revolution also entailed the development of new and horrifying weapons such as the atomic bomb. How it was detrimental to society:
There were fewer jobs for skilled workers, who were replaced by machines.
Working and living conditions for the lower-class people were miserably low; it also involved the exploitation of children and women in factories. Most children who worked in factories could not receive proper educations due to relentless, twelve-hour shifts six days a week.
The byproducts created from the factories led to a massive amount of polluted smog being dispersed into the environment.
Many children that worked in factories became deformed, and were crippled both physically and psychologically.
It led to the advancement of future weapons, such as the atomic bomb.
How it was “good”:
Textiles and clothes became far easier and cheaper to produce and transport.
Jobs no longer required skills for mass production.
Machines increased the efficiency of production of goods, and hastened the development of technology (for example, the steam engine).
The advent of locomotive machines allowed people to easily travel long distances.
Evidently, the Industrial Revolution encouraged significant changes in society from technology to culture, which were both good and bad. Which side will you choose? Vote in the poll now! The End
Bibliography "Industrial Revolution." Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Web. 11 May 2011. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Industrial_Revolution>. Mokyr, Joel. "Irish Potato Famine." Encyclopedia Britannica Online. Web. 25 Apr. 2011.http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/294137/Irish-Potato-Famine. "Trade union." Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Web. 11 May 2011. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trade_union>. Photos: "Industrial Revolution." Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Web. 11 May 2011.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Industrial_Revolution. Robinson, Bruce. "The Industrial Revolution Begins." Issaquah High School. Web. 11 May 2011. <http://www.ihs.issaquah.wednet.edu/teachers/fine/the_indu.htm>.