The literature of the Industrial Revolution includes essays, fiction, and poetry that respond to the enormous growth of technology as well as the labor and demographic changes it fostered. Having observed the adoption of such new technologies as the steam engine and the blast furnace, the Scottish intellectual Thomas Carlyle described this period as the "Mechanical Age," reflecting his belief that the machine was the dominant symbol of his era, one representing a profound change in both the physical and mental activities of his society. The Industrial Revolution figured prominently across a broad range of literary genres.
He is currently serving as a summer intern with the Institute for Humane Studies. Following graduation inJohn hopes to pursue a Ph.
Since it began approximately two centuries ago, the industrial revolution has captured the minds of an endless number of historians and economists.
An era of relatively laissez faire economics, the period between is for many academics the key to unlocking the secrets of economic growth, technological change, and economic development. But, for defenders of the classical liberal tradition of free enterprise, the industrial revolution is important for more insidious reasons.
Writers such as Dickens, Engels, and the Hammonds have made the terms industrial revolution and capitalism synonymous with degradation of the working class. Pessimistic interpretations of the industrial revolution have led to the popular acceptance of what R.
For the general public, the horrors of the industrial revolution prove the horrors of capitalism. For example, a text commonly used in college British literature classes describes the industrial revolution in these terms: For the great majority of the laboring class the results of the policy of laissez faire were inadequate wages, long hours of work under sordid conditions, and the large-scale employment of women and children for tasks which destroy body and soul.
Reports from investigating committees on coal mines found male and female children ten or even five years of age harnessed to heavy coal-sledges which they dragged crawling on their hands and knees. Such harsh interpretation of the industrial revolution has directly affected public policy.
The industrial revolution has become a successful battle cry for detractors of capitalism. The specter of working class poverty and misery during the industrial revolution has been and still remains an important justification for government intervention into social and economic affairs.
A vast amount of legislation, from minimum wage to antitrust laws, owes its existence to the anticapitalist mentality created by pessimistic views of the industrial revolution.
As Nobel laureate F. This paper will attempt to show that the pessimistic interpretations, however popular, are unfounded. It will be argued that the quantitative material standard of living improved as real wages rose, while falling mortality rates indicate that the qualitative sociological standard of living also improved.
Although there was considerable social and economic disruption throughout the revolution, this paper will try to show that these problems were caused by various government interventions, especially the Napoleonic Wars. Far from being a cause of misery and despair, this essay concludes, capitalism in the early nineteenth century improved the standard of living and set the stage for the modern comforts that we enjoy today.
An Increase in Real Wages As noted above, the pessimistic case is widely accepted by both the general public and academia. However, it is fair to say that the majority of modern economic historians who study the industrial revolution believe that at least a slight increase in the material standard of living occurred.
The evidence vindicates such confidence. Although money wages remained stable, the prices of manufactured and agricultural goods plummeted as entrepreneurs struggled to deliver consumers low-priced goods and services Hartwell,pp.
Although the extent of the increase in real wages is hotly debated, the most recent evidence suggests that blue-collar real wages doubled between and Williamson, p. As one can imagine, the increase in real wages resulted in significant improvements in the standard of living.
An excellent example is the changes in diet that occurred. Per capita consumption of meat, sugar, tea, beer, and eggs all increased. An even better indication of the rising affluence was the great increase of imported foods. Per capita consumption of foreign cocoa, cheese, coffee, rice, sugar, and tobacco increased.
Meanwhile, meat, vegetables, and fruits, long considered luxuries, were by eaten regularly Hartwell,pp. Although such improvements obviously are important, they take on added significance when considering the large population increase that took place during the industrial revolution.
Because of a fall in the death rate, the population of England and Wales rose 1. Rising real wages and consequent increases in food consumption coupled with a rapidly rising population was a first in European history. The Malthusian trap of geometrically increasing populations outstripping arithmetically increasing food supplies had finally been broken.
Whereas more people invariably resulted in less food per person throughout earlier European history, the industrial revolution provided more food per person. Breaking the bonds of Malthus is perhaps the crowning accomplishment of capitalism in general and the industrial revolution in particular.
Untenable Arguments Considering the preponderance of evidence indicating substantial improvement in real wages, it is clear that the arguments of early pessimists, such as Engels, have become untenable.
Clearly, the material standard of living did not plummet. With the advent of reliable statistical evidence supporting real wage increases, sophisticated pessimists began to emphasize the qualitative effects of industrialization.Introduction The era known as the Industrial Revolution was a period in which fundamental changes occurred in agriculture, textile and metal manufacture, transportation, economic policies and the social structure in England.
A new workforce during the Industrial Revolution Introduction | Wages and Hours | Treatment This is a primary source because it is a collection of actual interviews from the time period. 5. Deane, Phyllis. The First Industrial Revolution Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
6. Henly, Patricia. You will learn about the effects of the Industrial Revolution on living and working conditions, urbanization (the growth of cities), child labor, public health, working class family life, the role of women, the emerging middle class, and economic growth and income.
The Industrial Revolution was a period where major changes in agriculture, manufacturing, transport and mining took place. Rural life changed during the industrial revolution with the construction of factories all around the country, and advances in machinery people were moving away from villages to seek employment.
, . Life in Great Britain during the Industrial Revolution underwent vast social and economic changes, the result of developments in mechanised working methods, and the introduction of the factory system and the steam tranceformingnlp.com lives of large sections of the population of Great Britain underwent massive changes during the Industrial Revolution.
Equally clearly, the Industrial Revolution that eventually transformed these parts of the Western world surpassed in magnitude the achievements of Britain, and the process was carried further to change radically the socioeconomic life .