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The Beginning of the Modern Era; Its Benefits and Disadvantages

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  • Category: Child

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From the years of 1750-1830, the Industrial Revolution was a large part of the Great Britain’s culture. It brought many changes to the world in areas such as agriculture, manufacturing, mining, transportation, and technology. Although it began in Great Britain, it subsequently spread throughout Western Europe, North America, Japan, and later on, the rest of the world. Even though the Industrial Revolution brought many negative changes to society at the time such as child labor, in the long run, it advanced our world into the thriving civilization it is today. Despite some of the positive effects like the birth of new technology, the Industrial Revolution still brought many negative developments. One of these would include the conditions in the factories. Workers in the factories had to put in 12-14 hour days, 6 days a week. While they worked, they had to endure 80-degree heat and machines that needed constant attention. The factory conditions were also extremely dirty. The laborers could contract many diseases from the filthy environment and from the close quarters they shared with other people. Workers were also in a constant fear of losing limbs from unguarded machines.

And if that wasn’t bad enough, they were paid very little for their hard labor. Depending on the person, one would either be paid 10-15 shillings a week (men), 5 shillings a week (women), or 1 shilling a week (children). Even back then this was very hard to live on. Which leads to another bad outcome: child labor. Because factories needed workers, and children were very cheap, they were hired all the time. Unfortunately, with so many children in the workforce, they could not be supervised properly and many children were injured and fell sick. Yet another terrible outcome of the Industrial Revolution was from urbanization. One might also think this was good, but in this case, it led to many different problems. One problem was overpopulation. Due to rapid increase of industry, many people flocked to more urban places for jobs causing population increases in the cities. This led to factory owners rushing to build houses. These houses were often crammed and very poorly constructed. Many poor people would have to live in outhouses and basements, and orphans took to the streets. There were also no garbage disposal services, so trash was everywhere.

This caused many diseases to spread quickly. In turn, it led to very short life expectancies, and an average person living in a city was expected to live only 17 years. Although some parts of the Industrial Revolution brought much pain to its people, there are many positive aspects of this era. One of which was a far improved education system. Before the Industrial Revolution, very few children received formal educations. Only the very rich could afford to send their children to school. However, once the Industrial Revolution was in full swing the government recognized the need to educate children working in the factories, and began to provide additional financial support to schools. Laws were also enacted that decreed that children had to be educated for a certain amount of time each day. Later on, special schools began to develop which helped train children in a specific trade. Another positive effect was the changes in class structure. Before the Industrial Revolution, social status was based off of one’s job and birth-right, and people were separated based on how much land they owned. Also, the middle class was a very small.

Due to the Industrial Revolution, ownership of land was not the distinguisher between classes, a new class was developed; industrial capitalist, who ran factories, and in which anyone could be, despites one’s family), and the middle class grew and grew. Finally, the Industrial Revolution also brought life changing new technology. Some of these inventions include vaccines, telephones, electricity, and x-rays, which helped make everyone’s lives easier. These new inventions became the basis for some of the technology we use today like cars, radio, and television. Even though the Industrial Revolution has come and gone, there are some things that could’ve been changed to make it better. One way to reduce the risk inherent in the workplace conditions would have been to reduce the amount of hours one worked. There were no laws controlling the amount of hours a person could work in a week or the working conditions they had to suffer through. During that time, they could have created laws earlier to protect those people like the ones they have today in America. Another change that could have been made was to pay the children just a little more.

It would not have had to have been that much, but just a little bit more money so that the children would not have been completely exploited and would have had more to live on. Lastly, a really good change would have been to have a cleanup crew. This could be a new job that could have been funded by taxes, and would have cleaned up the city, making it safer to live in. With better living conditions, people would not have had to of had to live in a constant fear of contracting diseases and correspondingly life expectancies would have gone up. The Industrial Revolution brought many changes. From advances in education and technology, to larger cities and eventually labor laws, there were definitely many aspects of the Industrial Revolution that benefited humanity. But other aspects like the horrendous conditions that existed in the factories and child labor exploitation were terrible. What’s ironic is that even today, in many places of this world, parts of the Industrial Revolution are still taking place and working conditions are deplorable. This is present in some Asian countries such as China and Thailand. All and all, although the Industrial Revolution contained some horrific working conditions, the long term benefits to society far outweigh the negatives.

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