Regents Prep: Global History: Change & Turning Points:
Industrial Revolution

In 1750, most people in Europe lived on small farms and produced most of their needs by hand. A century later, many people lived in cities and most of their needs were produced by complex machines using steam power. The Industrial Revolution began in Great Britain and spread to Belgium, France, Germany, the United States and Japan. It was a fundamental change in the way goods were produced, and altered the way people lived. The Industrial Revolution is a major turning point in world history.

Agrarian Revolution: was a change in farming methods that allowed for a greater production of food. This revolution was fueled by the use of new farming technology such as the seed drill and improved fertilizers. The results of this revolution if farming was a population explosion due to the higher availability of food. Also, the Enclosure Movement, which was the consolidation of many small farms into one large farm, left many people jobless and homeless. These people would provide the workforce of the Industrial Revolution.

Geography: Great Britain has an abundance of the natural resources needed for industrialization, such as iron ore and coal. Britain also had access to many navigable rivers and natural harbors which provided for the easy movement of goods both within the country, and overseas.

Capital: The British had a vast overseas empire that provided them with a strong economy. They had the capital (money) needed to build railroads, factories, and mines. 

Technology & Energy: Britain experienced a revolution in energy use as they switched from animal power, to water power, to steam power in a few short years.  The steam engine was the power source of the Industrial Revolution.

Mass Production:  The use of the Factory System allowed for mass production of textiles and other goods.  This shifted people from production at home with the Put Out System, to production in large factories in cities.  Mass production also allowed for lower prices on the good produced.

Big Business: As the Industrial Revolution grew, so did business.  To meet the needs of this growth, business owners sold shares of their companies to stockholders who would share the profits and losses.  The influx of capital allowed business to grow into corporations that had dealing in many different areas.

Laissez-Faire Economics: This was an economic philosophy begun by Adam Smith in his book, Wealth of Nations, that stated that business and the economy would run best with no interference from the government.  This economic system dominated most of the Industrial Revolution.


New Social Class Structure

Upper Class: Very rich industrial & business families.  Old Noble class.
Upper Middle Class: Business people & professionals such as, lawyers & doctors.
Lower Middle Class: Other professionals such as, teachers, shop owners, and office workers.
Working Class: Factory workers and small farmers.

Urbanization: People moved to towns and cities to be closer to the factories.  Conditions were very poor during the early part of the Industrial Revolution, as factory workers lived in over crowded buildings, with no sewage or sanitation services.  This resulted in widespread disease.

Working Conditions: Factory workers worked very long hours, for little pay, under harsh conditions.  Workers included children as young as 8, both male and female.  Many people were injured or killed due to unsafe working conditions.

Societal Changes: New roles were defined for Middle Class men and women.  MC men went to work in business, while MC women worked from home and cared for the family.  The higher standard of living for the middle class meant that their children received some form of formal education. Working Class families faced many hardships due to poor living and working conditions, and most WC children never received an education.

Communism: Karl Marx wrote in The Communist Manifesto (1848) that all of human history is based on the conflict between the bourgeoisie (those who own the means of production) and the proletariat (working class). He predicted that the proletariat would rise up in a violent revolution to overthrow the bourgeoisie and create a society with an equal distribution of goods and services. This socialist theory would form the basis for the Bolshevik, Chinese, and Cuban Revolutions in the 20th Century.

Imperialism: Africa, China, India, South East Asia, and others were controlled by Europe to provide raw materials and new markets for industrialized goods.  Imperialism had a negative effect on most of these cultures, and did not completely end until after World War II.  Imperialism usually only benefited the European nations.

The Industrial Revolution was a major turning point in world history as it resulted in a complete change in society on all levels.  Effects of the Industrial Revolutions were long reaching, and influenced many other cultures both positively and negatively.


Created by Jeffery Watkins
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