1 Nicholas Scrivener History 202 Professor Bersnak THE EFFECTS OF THE INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION ON ENGLISH SOCIETY The Industrial

Revolution, the phrase even today after at least two-hundred and twenty years of continued change and progress still elicits its own image in the minds of men. The image of the factory worker, tied to his station lest the machine fail, is indicative of the changes wrought by this new advancement in technologies on people and their lives. The revolution marked the beginning of the end for the traditional society of advanced countries. Where once industry consisted of many men in small shops working for themselves in order to produce a workable product, with the onslaught of rapid change these men saw their shops bought out, or driven out of business by the new mills and factories. This entire old order is summarized nicely by saying,, “In the old order described in the first chapter the workshops were the homes of the people. Weaving and spinning were not done workers under capitalistic masters but by members of the family of the workman or a few employés. The workers for the most part owned their own machinery, and handled the raw materials and the manufactured products for themselves. Even where several men worked under one master, there was no complete separation like we see in modern life. “The manufacturer employed a group of journeymen and a few apprentices, the number of the latter being apportioned by law to the number of the former. In this way the proportion of workers in each trade was balanced according to the growth of each; and as there were no sudden displacements of labor by the introduction of machinery, as the years went on the old habits and methods of life were preserved, while the relation between employer and employed, commencing under an indentured apprenticeship, usually for seven years, and continuing under a system of journeymanship, became a kind of family relation. As a rule, with personal knowledge there was personal respect, though not without those occasional disagreements which opposing interests will sometimes beget, however carefully they may be regulated.”1 These new factories and mills brought with them changes to the society which had created them. The owners of small shops found themselves working as cogs in a greater machine churning out ever more advanced finished products, the laborer in the fields found himself with the new opportunity to move to a city and become part of this ever growing machine. And many agricultural laborers did just that, creating an exodus from the fields which had once been the life of the wealthy, to the new
1 Charles Beard, The Industrial Revolution. George Allen & Unwin LTD, London. 1936. pages 45-46.

and performed one task out of the many needed to create a finished product. the mill demanded that work by done in a large group set to the pace of an endlessly repetitive machine. Also these new mills and factories changed the way the society thought about work in general. this in turn would spur more technological growth to meet this new demand by the consumer. For instance England’s wool market. The traditions of this industry passed from generation of craftsmen to the next. 2 David S. “The factory was a new kind of prison. is a consideration on the way it changed society in regards to its view on labor in general and more particularly. Landes. was changed by the rise of the merchant and entrepreneur who both drove and were driven by the possibilities of this new field. This preeminence placed on a traditional method of craftsmanship led to a dispersed industry that spread throughout the villages of England. where society once considered work as a small scale affair done at home and in its due time. The Unbound Prometheus. the clock a new kind of jailer”2 First in a consideration of the effects the rapid technological changes of the Industrial Revolution. Prior to the Industrial Revolution English society consisted mostly of agricultural workers and what would today be considered small business owners. the owners of these impressive new creations. prior to the change was its main national pastime as it were the wealth of the country came mostly from the trade in wool. purchase. Landes said. decreased prices of goods led to an increase in their availability. The Unbound Prometheus (New York. This new division of society no longer cut between the wealthy landed aristocracy and the laborers beneath them.2 fields of technological fruits and their new wealthy. as David Landes said in his work on the Industrial Revolution. The mechanization of production brought with it more profound changes to the society at large. and hence demand. and under the careful eyes of the proud owners of these machines: it became as Mr. 1969) . These people worked usually from home. the areas of production most affected by the new technologies. In order to do this first it must be compared to its pre-industrial counterpart.

This changed the focus from the worker to the expensive machine which the owner of the mill had invested a large amount of capitol in. the new mills led to an increase in the demand for iron. The country's deeply ingrained social conventions. changing slowly over time. after all they were no longer skilled craftsman. On the other hand. which meant more demand for labor. Society reflected these changes. meant that more focus was placed socially on the people who could carry out this trade. and hence coal. with the legislation being passed no longer focusing on the protection of the market that was catered to by the craftsman. It was as Mr. The increase in mechanization in turn led to a demand for more labor. consequently as the importance for him was on his machine and not the workers. heavily localized. meant that most wool industry craftsmen would work at home. This new production system created centralized industrial centers where all of the various jobs that were once done in homes were now done by machines and their human handlers. and more capitol that investors had to sink into these new machines. this cycle supported itself by means of various branches of industry aiding the further development of others. this was most easily accomplished by the increase in fires.3 because of this society favored this old established tradition with protective legislation. it began to eclipse its older-traditional counterpart. which fueled the social change from an agricultural and rural society to an industrialized and urban one instead. and so the iron industry sought ways to increase its productivity. but merely hired hands used to tend to the needs of the machine. but instead using laws to benefit the owners of the new machines. Consequently the coal industry began to search for ways to make more product to meet the increasing . This dispersed form of an industry. In turn this caused society to be based largely upon the traditional family. which in turn were produced by more machines. in order to interest them in investing the capitol required to acquire additional machines. and pass this craft on to their children. An example given in The Unbound Prometheus is that of the coal and iron industries. once the great mills and factories began to produce great quantities of wool products without as much needed time. Landes put it a self sustaining cycle. This new urban society needed new goods.

Where before he was a skilled craftsman. as were their families. as such they the small villages and hamlets where this dispersed form of industry was carried out tended to be close-knit and more stable. now the laborer was no more than someone to feed into the meat grinder of the machines in exchange for greater amounts of product. These families tended to stay local and continue doing the same work generation after generation. . with the pumps came a demand for iron and steel to make them. and the subsequent migration of people from agricultural and small-scale industry work to the cities and the perhaps more stable benefits of working in one of the new mills or factories. In short. or perhaps out in the fields. This began to change with the industrial revolution. this led to deeper mines for more coal hence water problems. one that could be easily replaced due to large untapped quantities of potential labor. space must of course be given to the economic changes that were brought on by the introduction of new ideas and technologies. with most people being at the lower end of society they tended to charity. the worker himself came to be seen as a kind of machine. giving what they could to keep their fellows safe.4 demand. replacing forever the supremacy of the craftsman. the lives of the people were changed. who possessed years of knowledge and was therefor important on account of the experience needed to produce the quality he was capable of. As a consequent to this new change in the primacy of labor. and bigger machines. or in another mans' house. This new self-supportive system led to more and better techniques to do the same old job in a fraction of the time. and hence more coal. This ever increasing demand for new technologies and more machines to cater to the new needs arising from the comfort provided by the cheaper and more reliable quality goods offered by the machines led to a change in the way society looked at the worker. hence the invention of better pumps. with the introduction of the mill. with a demand for more and better. In a consideration of the effects on Britain by the industrial revolution. Prior to the revolution a man was most likely working at home if he was married.

as they increased supply side demand. these investors would then in turn invest in another project. investors saw a possibility for profit and put capitol in this new area. After the revolution. spurring greater investments in all areas. With the increased demands of the industrialized economy answered. while also being used to increase the productivity of older established traditional areas of the economy. another improvement to the technologies used by the factories. So as the revolution expanded and increased demand of goods.5 In times past. By this mechanic the scale of production was increased by orders of magnitude. the economy saw exponential growth on the other side as the economy increased in productivity. The advent of industrialized mills and factories allowed such a massive increase in production that the old economy was forced to expand exponentially in order to keep up with the demands of the new industrialized economy. On account of this massive increase in the need for raw goods. while the poor got poorer. This wealth in turn was returned to the investors as a profit. So while it appeared that the rich began to get rich. another factory. but in truth. so with the improvement of technology the welfare of the lives of most people was increased by several orders of magnitude. and because of this greater flow of wealth both into the wallets of the factory owners and the workers themselves. vastly increasing the size of the economy. Britain's economy in comparison to the economies of today was relatively small. This exponential growth in all sectors of the economy was a true stimulus. the revitalized economy brought on the the industrial revolution created more wealth for the capitalists. creating more wealth. workers who had left work on a farm . most of which were on the subsistence level as evidenced by the general lack of wealth and education found among the farmers prior to the industrial revolution. the industrial revolution expanded and grew in order to take advantage of these new possibilities in high demand fields. and that meant greater payments for the workers. The interconnected economy saw growth on all sides as the new powers of industry were applied in new ways and to new things. Where previously the workers of these factories lived on farms. new industrial machines were invented in order to increase the availability of goods in answer to this demand.

in order to overcome the challenge of still pulling a good crop with reduced manpower. These new technologies were either used to improve the efficiency of farms in regards to input. and ended up increasing the value of their work in general. was the constant improvement of technologies that either were designed for. while compensating for the need to do all this with less manpower than had been previously available. mostly consisting of improvements that were considered as improvements on the efficiency of the process. investment. and stability. many things were changing back on the farms as well. increasing the output of the farm as well as its stability. With the lack of workers needed to produce a good crop. There were other technologies that served to improve throughput. or more specifically the efficiency of the farms during the process of . as improvements were made in chemistry for industrial purposes. or the efficiency of the output. Now while many people left work on a farm to go live in the new industrial cities. turning a farm into an industry with profit margins. those same improvements. they began to rely more on new technologies and breakthroughs in order to reduce the variables that determined whether their would be a good crop or not. or could be adapted to improve the efficiency of the farms. These new improvements were what finally linked the farms to their competition.6 for work in a factory traded simplicity for modernity. the industrial factories and mills. or reduce the materials needed to grow that same crop. These improvements took many forms. which in turn meant that less workers were needed on the farms thus slightly increasing the labor pool available to the urban industries. While farms remained subject to the climate to a certain extent. Another factor that was constantly improving the efficiency of the farming industry. namely new uses for sulfur were used for the farming industry to improve the quality of fertilizers available. the farms themselves began to enter the industrial revolution. subsistence for profit. These better fertilizers in turn increased the efficiency and productivity of the farming industry. New technologies that improved input efficiency usually consisted of new technologies and techniques that would either decrease the time needed to grow a crop.

the stability of food production became less dependent on environmental factors. This Allowed the farmer to enter into the industrial revolution. and even to mass produce his crop. the revolution brought change of a different sort to the conditions under which people worked. where children would work to aid their parents who were doing more difficult jobs. mill. Prior to the revolution. . allowing himself even greater profits. In 1801-2 twenty six families made up ninety-five of the onehundred and thirty-six workers in Robert Peels mill at Bury. this in turn improved the quantity of their output. And always the children 3 Peter Mathias . or finding strains of the plant more suitable to withstand extra sunshine. London. as men adapted new techniques and technologies to accomplish this goal.3 That means that almost seventy percent of the employees were from a family that worked in the mill as a whole unit. were the new breakthroughs in chemistry that in turn allowed for the invention and improvement of a vitally important technique to farming. 1976.7 growing the crops. raising farmers from the subsistence level to the level of profitability available to the rest of society. The First Industrial Nation: An Economic History of Britain 1700-1914. While the changes sweeping the economy were affecting farmers. or mine. this could be done by reducing the need for rain. As farms began to increase the efficiency of their process and increasing the input they were able to make use of. This practice was translated over into the industrial workplace especially in small areas where there was not a large pool of laborers to be drawn from. insecticides. usually a new breakthrough in this area would lessen the possibility that the crop would be adversely affected by the climate or weather. As these new technologies and techniques for production allowed farming to become an industry unto itself. a common practice was family labor. This practice saw entire families going to work in a factory. Butler & Tanner. With new breakthroughs the damage done to crops by the ravages of insects could be mitigated and in some cases even remove it completely. Perhaps more importantly in regards to improving the efficiency of farms to protect their crop while it grew.

the craftsman plying his trade. a single adult could require as many as nine children working under him in order to maintain the machine properly and create a stable output. their labor less of a craft. This new legislation was itself a product of increasing technology and the new demands it placed on the workforce. and more of a glorified servant. driven by steam and iron. it was not for another nine years that any kind of legislation would be passed to alleviate their difficult working lives. men worked for their living using their own materials. This shift led to a decline of the family unit of workers. the discipline on children which until previously was administered by parents and family members was now the job of the factory overseers and foremen. tools and skills. In this particular case it was the introduction of Richard Roberts' new mules after 1824. and twelve hours for those between fourteen and eighteen. and led to public outcry against this practice. The new challenges faced by an industrial society were slow to be realized.8 were given some of the more difficult jobs that required their smaller size in order to be done more easily. For a child. a servant to the age of the machine. the old society was breaking down. In order to work these mules. and a new society was raising from the ashes. Some of the problem was alleviated only in 1833 by the passing of the Factory Act which limited the amount of hours children could work to eight for those between nine and thirteen. Their small hands became the victims of the machines needs. This new age was one of technology. the artisan perfecting his craft. For some this simply could not stand. Yet even with people outraged at the conditions children now found themselves working in. these children were often submitted to horrendously difficult jobs. Now their tools were no longer their own. With this new practice. Before the revolution came. that was almost unbearable. as more children were needed for every adult. Gone were the days of labor. The skills that once allowed a man to create a product were not no longer in demand. and they had to work just as long as their older relatives. in place of craftsmanship this new era of society emphasized the .

there were several that were allowed to wither and die. leading to generations of improving quality. among the ideas find its roots in the industrial revolution are communism and socialism. Regardless of the motives. perhaps because there were legitimate grievances against the factory owners. economic ideals that stem form the primacy of the worker. and twice the speed. many of the new technologies were quickly replaced by something even better. this new way of life spread. or perhaps it was all propaganda from liberals who had found something new to be in love with. such options simply were not available to the artisan. because without him. . These ideas found roots in the minds of men. and the gears of industry would grind to a halt. these new factories were able to create products that had the same consistent quality. the great machines would cease to run. And the economic and social consequences ripple down through the years. we continue on with the legacy of those changes. industry itself changed the world around it. broader changes occurred in the overall economy. And alongside the new machines came new thoughts and ideas. With numbers like that going for it. While some of its consequences may have been negative. For every avenue of technology that was explored. the overall fabric of society and the way the men connected with each other was fundamentally changed. the factories and mills producing endless streams of goods that while they may have been of a lesser quality than the products they replaced. asserting his superiority. and at half the cost. the machines changed the worker. while each past innovation quickly sank into obscurity. and with new changes to the economy. And so in the persuit of these new ways of improving industry. all of the consequences of the industrial revolution were unknowable at the time. And as the worker changed. And whether for good or ill. while the other aspects of the early revolution have long since faded. these ideas linger with us even today.9 quality of quantity.

London. London. London. 1976. Peter. Methuen & Co Ltd. Weidenfeld and Nicolson. . London. E. George Allen & Unwin Ltd. Sir George. Oxford university Press.J. 1965. The Industrial Revolution.10 BIBLIOGRAPHY: Clark. 1968. Beard. Mathias. The Wealth of England from 1496 to 1760. Charles. Hobsbawm. The First Industrial Nation: An Economic History of Britain 1700-1914. Industry And Empire. 1936.