In the middle of the 17th century, the first industrial revolution began in England; other countries only started this process in the following century.
This revolution was marked by large quantities of factories, huge railroads, the migration of the population from rural to urban areas, the structuring of society based on legal equality, and the increased importance of banks and stock exchanges. All these transformations created a progressive world different from the Old Regime.
James Watt started this process by inventing the steam engine. This new technology began to be used in the textile industry and transportation, starting with the Age of Machines. However, the industrialization process had many social costs.
This process brought changes in the rhythm of the economy, politics, made it possible to replace animal work with mechanical work, and even in social organization, with the division of society into two main classes: the bourgeoisie and the proletariat.
To understand this phenomenon, it's important to highlight three central aspects:
- The Industrial Revolution occurred in a period in which the population was growing fastly;
- There was a volume of raw materials needed to meet the productive needs of society;
- New energy sources were created to transform raw materials into goods more quickly.
The basis of the Industrial Revolution:
Throughout the Modern Age, with the development of agricultural techniques, England experienced rapid growth of population. From six and a half million people in 1750 to fourteen million by 1831.
This growth stimulated the development of the textile and steel industry: cotton and iron became indispensable raw materials.
Because iron is a raw material, the output of English foundries increased at the turn of the 18th to the 19th century. The depletion of wood in the English woods and the demand for new machinery explain the economic importance of iron in the period.
At the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, coal was used as an energy source to melt iron, and allow the production of various machines. Therefore, large industrial centers grew up around coal mines. But throughout the 19th century, new technologies made it possible to use electricity as an energy source. This began with lighting and then with transportation. In addition to electricity, oil also began to be used, which marked the beginning of the Second Industrial Revolution.
Stages of Revolution
- The first phase (1760-1860) was limited to England.
It's characterized by a series of inventions that accelerated production, means of communication, and transportation. The cities of this period had an accelerated growth with the formation of workers' villages. The cotton cloth industry stood out.
- The second phase (1860-1900), reached other countries besides England, such as Belgium, France, Italy, Germany, the United States, and Japan.
During this period, steel began to gain prominence as a raw material for industry. Electric power and petroleum-based fuels started to gain importance, but coal continued to be used as an energy source. Many other inventions developed during this period.
-The third phase(1900)
Some authors argue that the Third Phase of the Industrial Revolution occurred in the second half of the 20th century. Called the Age of Information Technology, this new phase was marked by the growth of computerization of production.
The technological transformations make possible the expansion of productive forces, the creation of alternative energy sources, and advances in various areas of knowledge.
However, they also cause serious social problems such as the worsening of social inequalities, the impoverishment of large portions of the world's population, and environmental changes that threaten the very continuity of human life on the planet.
Reflexes of industrialization
The old testament society gave way to a class society. In this new society, social groups are organized into classes, so there is no longer a privileged group and an unprivileged group.
The society formed from the Industrial Revolution was divided into two main classes: the bourgeoisie and the proletariat.
The bourgeoisie is made up of individuals who controlled the means of production and the wealth produce. And it was also made up of individuals who had control of cultures, such as intellectuals, liberal professionals, and those who controlled the administration of the state.
The proletariat was made up of individuals who did not control the means of production and who could only sell their work to survive.
The Social Problems:
The emergence of class society did not solve the problems and tensions caused by social inequalities. Industrial development established a system of competition in which companies strove to maximize their profits.
In this context, industries paid the lowest possible wages to their workers. Working hours were long, and factory owners hired women and children to do the same jobs as men, but for even lower wages. In addition, the factory environment was dangerous, dirty, and polluted.
Slowly laws were created to establish minimum ages for child work, because of the exploitation of children, which moved many people with a humanitarian sense.
One of the effects of the industrial revolution was the change in the worldview of industrializing societies. An example of this change is the vision of time, which began to be linked with the idea of the value of work.
The mechanical clock, created in the 13th century, stopped being used only to control the monks' daily prayers and became part of the essential accessories of individuals. It started to dictate a strict discipline to work.
Therefore, industrial societies began to consider the control of time essential for economic and social life.
The terrible living conditions of the working class led to the emergence of several movements in defense of social change. The workers' movements gained supporters in other social levels, prompting an intense debate about social differences. Throughout the 19th century, several movements arose to fight for the reduction of social inequalities.
Growth of the cities and their problems:
The accelerated growth of cities has created numerous social problems, such as the lack of adequate housing, difficulties in organizing urban transport.
Each city grew differently. London, for example, grew early. On the other hand, some European countries industrialized late, as is the case in Spain, Portugal, and Russia. Meanwhile, the United States developed its industry in the first decades of the 19th century.
In this revolution, the countries of Africa and Asia became large suppliers of raw materials and started late the industrialization of their economies.
The city summarizes the 19th century, it reflects all the phenoms, the economic changes, the growth and displacement of the population, the social tensions. Industrial civilization and big cities are part of an inseparable historical process.