INDUSTRIAL REVOULUTION The Industrial Revolution is a term usually applied to the social and economic changes that mark the transition from a stable agricultural and commercial society, to a modern industrial society relying on complex machinery rather than tools. There have been numerous debates to the use of this term because the word “revolution” suggests sudden, violent, unparalleled change. Even though there was an unparalleled change in the world, it was by no means sudden nor violent. The world’s social and economic structures changed due to marvelous inventions and innovations. These inventions and innovations led to a factory system of large-scale machine production and greater economic specialization. Britain is credited for starting this revolution and the United States soon followed. However, we must examine the revolution and it’s effects in other countries outside of Britain and the U.S. In France, this Industrial Revolution came late because of the French Revolution. However, after the French Revolution came to an end, France began picking up it’s pace in development. In fact, the French government played a much more active role in development than did the British government. The French government had funded railways, whereas the British railways were privately funded. Even though industrialization did pick up in France, handcraft production still remained a significant element of the French economy. And some industries, like furniture production, mechanization was very unpopular. However, mechanization did hurt some of the French farmers and French weavers so much, that they were forced to the cities and later induced a second French Revolution. In Asia, Japan became the first industrial nation. In fact, the Japanese liked the idea of industrialization so much that the government made it a national goal in the late 19th century. In India, this idea of industrialization had a complete opposite effect. India’s economy survived on two major markets; the cotton market and the agricultural market. The cotton was grown by hand, picked by hand, and weaved by hand. Because of this, Indian cotton and cotton products were the best in the world and they carried a best in the world price. Beautifully hand woven cotton was very expensive and because of this, weavers and growers were living comfortably. But when the Industrial Revolution hit Britain, this all changed. The British (and an American man named Eli Whitney) invented new machines, such as the Spinning Jenny and the Cotton Gin, that could pick and weave cotton almost ten times faster than a hand could. Because more cotton products could be produced in a shorter time and therefore would cost less money, people began buying British cotton goods. This drove Indian cotton farmers and weavers out of work. And because of this, these unskilled workers had to move to cities or take up other jobs. For most Indians, this was impossible because they were so unskilled. No only did industrialization ravage the Indian Cotton Industry, but it ravaged Indian family traditions. Indians, who were lucky to find work, found it harder and harder to spend time with their families. So family ties and traditions almost ended right then. And since a large portion of the population relied on the Cotton Industry, a large portion suffered these hardships and most Indian traditions were lost forever. However, industrialization did come at a cost for other nations as well. The nature of work, around the world, became worse and worse for many people. The concept of industrialization placed great pressures on traditional family ties as work moved from around the home to outside the home. The economic and social differences between people of industrialized nations became further stratified, as was the rift between wealthy nations and poor nations. The environment suffered a great deal due to this industrialization. To this day, pollution, deforestation, and the destruction of plants and animals continue to skyrocket. Industrialization did have good outcomes. Material well-being and improved health care came to many industrial societies. New goods and new choices came about. It also led the way for other ideas such as women’s rights and child labor laws, among others. Simply stated, industrialization did have its good aspects as well as its bad, and those can be arguable. But no one can argue that the Industrial Revolution was a huge achievement (whether good or bad) in human history and we are still feeling the effects of that achievement to this day.
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