Short essay on Social Effects of the Industrial Revolution

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In the special sphere also the industrial revolution pro­duced far-reaching consequences. In the first place, the growth of factory system resulted in the growth of new cities. Workers shifted to places near the factories where they were employed.

This resulted in the growth of a number of new cities like Leeds, Manchester, Burmingham and Sheffield in Britain, which soon became the centres of industry, trade and commerce.

Secondly, the rise of cities was accompanied by the growth of slums. Before the advent of industrial revolution, the industry was scattered throughout the country. Artisans generally worked in their cottages or shops and were not entirely dependent on trade for their livelihood. They often combined manufacturing and agriculture.

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This was not possible after the growth of factories and the workers had to live at places near the factory. As a large number of workers had to be provided accommodation, long rows of small one-room houses without garden or other facilities were built.

With the emergence of new factories and growth in population the problem assumed more serious dimensions. The factory owners were mainly interested in amassing great fortunes and hardly paid any attention to the welfare and well-being of their workers. In the dark, dingy and dirty houses the workers fell easy prey to various types of diseases and often died premature deaths.

Thirdly, the extremely low wages paid by the factory owners made it difficult for them to make both ends meet. As a consequence they were often obliged to send their women and children to factories, where they worked on extremely low wages.

The industrialists preferred women and children also because they were easy to manage. This exploitation of women and children resulted in “stunned bodies, deformed backs, horribly twisted legs, sunken chests and savage natures.”

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Fourthly, the conditions of factory life were not conducive to healthy family life. The women were required to work in factories and mines for long hours and were hardly left with any time or energy to look after their household or children.

Further, as they lived in extremely congested quarters they also lost their qualities of modesty and virture. Often women and children began to drink like men. This wrecked their health and made their life miserable.

Fifthly, industrial revolution led to sharp divisions in society. The society got divided into two classes-the bourgeois and the proletariat. The former consisted of factory owners, great bankers, small industrialists, merchants and professional men. They amassed great wealth and paid very low wages to the workers.

The other class consisted of labourers who merely worked as tools in the factories. With the passage of time the lot of the capitalist classes went on improving and that of the working classes went on deteriorating. This caused great social disharmony, and gave rise to sharp conflict between the capitalists and the workers.

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