The Many Changes Brought by the Industrial Revolution
These days, our lives are much easier than before. From new inventions such as cell phones that make communication easier to roads and canals that make transportation quicker, most of the aspects of our daily lives have changed since the previous century. These changes have all been the effect of the Industrial Revolution. The Industrial Revolution began in the 18th century, having a critical role in the development changes of agriculture, manufacturing, mining, communication and transportation. Labor, land, capital, colonial empire and laissezr-faire are just some of the factors that influenced the birth of the Industrial Revolution.
Labor refers to a social class that does manual work for wages, this class usually comprised of farmers and peasants. When the Industrial Revolution first started in Great Britain, there was a high demand for available workforce and opportunities for a higher standard of living, luring thousands of people from the country to come work in manufacturing factories throughout the city. Due to the creation of steam-powered machinery, work was much easier to do. Instead of having a person hand-do everything, which may have taken days to accomplish, machines were able to do most of the work and only required people to set it off from one checkpoint to the next. New procedures such as crop rotation also made manufacturing much easier.
Because of these developments, employers wanted to hire people who would work for as little money as possible. They soon discovered that children and women worked as efficiently as men for lower wages and longer hours. Under terrible working conditions, dozens and hundreds of workers would work in a cramped room with long hours and little breaks in between them. They worked in all kinds of weather and had to adjust their lives to the demands of the machines. Wages were set in relation to other costs of production. If the cost of land or capital increased, the owners lowered wages.
An oversupply of workers for one particular job would also decrease wages. Overtime, laws regulated the amount of hours a worker could work in the duration of a week and child labor was prohibited. Land was an important factor of the Industrial Revolution, also referred to as the natural resources. Great Britain had an abundant supply of natural resources including iron and coal ores. Because of the high demand of machines, there was a high demand for iron and coal, which made the machines.
Great Britain had a huge advantage due to the fact that they had a good supply of both these resources. Building machines with iron became a problem due to the iron’s incapability to withstand the high pressure of steam, leading the Industry to find a new and more durable metal. They soon met this need with steel, iron with certain impurities removed. William Kelly and Henry Bessemer were two Englishmen who developed a cheap and efficient technique to develop steel, which was also known as the Bessemer process. The Bessemer process involved forcing air through the molten metal to burn out carbon and other impurities that made the metal brittle.
Some other natural resources used during the Industrial Revolution included wind and water. Wind was used to power windmills as water was used to power watermills. The only disadvantage both had was that wind was not always present and a factory had to be near a stream or river to be able to use waterpower. The usage of water soon developed steam engines, which aided in faster transportation. Instead of using roads filled with thick dust in dry weather and slippery when it rained, steam engines were safer, faster, and more affordable. Waterpower was widely used in gaining electricity, converting water to steam and utilizing its movement to generate power.
Capital was the accumulated wealth in the form of money or property owned by a person or business invested to produce profits. During the Commercial Revolution in England, land was the primary source of wealth. People were able to make investments in land to increase their capital. The enclosure movement of the eighteenth century was also when Parliament passed a series of laws that permitted lands that had been held in common by tenant farmers to be enclosed into large, private farms worked by a much smaller labor force. As the Industrial Revolution grew, so did the production of goods from machines. The increase of money flow handled by financiers and banks made them as important as industrialists and factories in the growth of the revolution.
To cover the machinery expenses, banks would often make short-term loans to industrialists. This allowed industrialists to use their own money to buy more machinery and to expand their factory. Industrialist needed short-term capital to buy raw materials and provide wages to their workers, and long-term capital to expand present operations further. Their investment in new ventures was one of the causes of the quick growth of the Industrial Revolution. As the Industrial Revoultion thrived, so did the development of a middle class.
The Middle Class consisted of bankers, manufacturers, merchants, doctors, lawyers, professors and engineers. The working class compared to the middle class had to struggle financially and economically. The middle class however, gained prestige and recognition, often being able to hire servants, eat well and enjoy comfort. Because of this, Aristocratic governmnet sought the help of the middle class economists because they were afraid that the future of industry would change drastically. As Aristocracy became less important in English government and society, allowed a steady shift in the values of the people.
Now, the most important value was the pursuit of wealth, sparking mercantilism in which one country takes wealth from another due to the fixed amount of money in the world. One major idea during the Industrial Revolution was Laissez-Faire. Laissez-Faire was a French phrase meaning “let do” or leave things alone. During the Industrial Revolution, many new factories and companies sprung up and through the success of their manufactured goods, the employers who owned them became rich. This led to the development of the bourgeoisie class, a class not noble by birth but rich by owning factories. Without the government’s interference, this led to long hours, bad working conditions and child labor.
It was only until later in the Industrial Revolution when government took action, enforcing laws such to issues such as child labor and working conditions. Our lives have changed in more ways than one due to the effects of the Industrial Revolution. We have faster transportation, better communication and much more. Not only do we have all these advanced necessities, but we now also have laws from working wages to child labor that makes things fair. Because of the birth of the Industrial Revolution, it gave an opportunity for an easier life. Factors such as labor, land, capital, management and laissez-faire all have a big part in the development of the Industrial Revolution.