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Political, Social and Economic Effects of the Industrial Revolution

Overall in history, there have been many turning points that impact the world we live in today. The turning points set the stage for changes and continuities over time in many areas of the world. In Europe, the Industrial Revolution changed all of Europe even while some aspects stayed the same. During the time period of 1750 and 1914, the Industrial Revolution changed Europe politically, socially, and economically. The role of women, production techniques, and the growth of the cities in Europe all contributed to the Industrial Revolution.

Before the Industrial Revolution, Europe was mostly an agrarian society. This means that they worked off the land to make money. Most Europeans were farmers and worked in the country. All of this changed once the Industrial Revolution started. Production became automated or done my machines and required less human labor. The automation of production all started because of an amalgamation of some great inventions. The spinning jenny invented by James Hargreaves in 1764 was a spinning machine that made it possible to produce more cotton cloth. The manufacturing and production of the steam engine done by James Watt and Matthew Boulton also increase productivity. Steam power was used in power looms which became one of the most important technologies developed in the Industrial Revolution. These power looms allowed work to be done faster and required less labor to produce the cloth. Even though these changes occurred and production became more automated, there were still some things that stayed the same. Human labor was still needed to work in the factories alongside the machines. Also the materials used to produce the cloth, cotton, was the same. Britain still had to import raw cotton from India. The automation of production definitely changed from before the Industrial Revolution but some aspects still stayed the same.

Another noted change in the Industrial Revolution as the role of women. Before the Industrial Revolution, women primarily stayed at home. They did housework, took care of their children, and tended to their husbands. The women’s place was to be at the house and be a caring wife and mother. However, this all changed because of the Industrial Revolution. Women who were used to working near their husbands at home started working outside the home. At first, the reason women started working in factories and other places are that the farms were they used to work wasn’t the main source of employment; the cities were. Even though men started displacing women in the factories as the Industrial Revolution went on, women still held jobs. They had more time to work (presence of children decreased as a result of free schools) so some women took on jobs such as teaching, nursing, sales personnel, and secretaries. The suffrage movement was also developing as more women wanted the right to vote and participate in government. All these changes benefitted women but like before they still weren’t considered equal. They were still looked down upon and considered inferior by men. Also on top of working and trying to provide for their families, they had to take care of the children and act as full time wives, mothers, and workers like before. Also women weren’t paid the same as men. The society saw that men should earn a “family wage” to provide for themselves and their family. Meanwhile women earned income only sufficient to provide for themselves even though they have families also. Women definitely gained more rights during the Industrial Revolution but some patriarchal views continued.

The Industrial Revolution brought many changes to Europe but one of the most notable differences is urbanization. Urbanization is the process of people migrating to the cities from farms and the country. Before urbanization and the Industrial Revolution, most people were peasants and lived out in the country. Their occupation was a farmer and they generally just worked from home. However, once the Industrial Revolution started people, people started moving to cities and working in new factories, increasing urbanization. A reason for this was that because of a surplus of food, the population increased. This supplied more labor which allowed people to start moving to cities instead of staying on the farms. Also more jobs were found in the cities compared to the farms because of new technologies that greatly increased the productivity of farming which cause the demand for farmers to decrease. However, the continuity of this change is that even though farmers were moving out the cities to find jobs, there were still farmers working in the country. Farmers were still needed to produce food for the growing population but there were less of them needed because technology replaced some the need for human labor. Urbanization was certainly a crucial change during the Industrial Revolution but there were still some features that stayed the same.

From the period between 1750 to 1914, the entire continent of Europe changed politically, socially, and economically. During the Industrial Revolution, there were many changes such as the automation of production, increasing women’s rights, and urbanization. These changes were occurred because of amazing new inventions, the further understanding of equality, and a way to feed all of Europe to make the Industrial Revolution possible. Many of these changes impacted the world today in some way also. Along with these changes, some characteristics of Europe before the revolution stayed the same. Some habits, occupations, and beliefs stayed the same which impacted how the revolution evolved. Overall, the Industrial Revolution changed the course of Europe for years to come while keeping some old “traditions.”

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