Exploitation of Men, Women, and Children
Firstly, one of the major challenges that workers had to face during the Industrial Revolution was the exploitation of men, women, and children, as well as the horrible working conditions they had to endure. During this time women and children were now seen working outside the house, they were also earning money which was something a man would typically do. Families would move from the countryside to the city and they would work in factories and would have jobs such as textile workers, seamstresses, and miners—but oftentimes these factories would be extremely dangerous and not safe to work in at all. Workers would get injured a lot, they would get into accidents that cost them limbs and some workers were killed on accident, simply because the machines were not maintained properly and had many safety violations the factory owners did not bother to fix. Workers would start their labor in the early hours like five in the morning all the way to night time, sometimes even the next day without any breaks.
Their employers were not the best either, they would force workers to continue their jobs even if they were injured, sick, or starving, and would punish their workers if they failed to do their assigned tasks. A textile worker by the name of Hannah Goode would describe the intense exploitation and mistreatment as: “I think the youngest child is about 7. I daresay there are 20 under 9 years. It is about half-past five by our clock at home when we go in… We come out at seven by the mill. We never stop to take our meals, except at dinner. William Crookes is overlooker in our room. He is cross-tempered sometimes. He does not beat me; he beats the little children if they do not do their work right… I have sometimes seen the little children drop asleep or so, but not lately. If they are caught asleep they get the strap. They are always very tired at night… I can read a little; I cannot write. I used to go to school before I went to the mill; I have since I am sixteen.”
Second, there was a very evident pay gap when it came to gender. Women and children were paid less than men even though most of the time they would do the same amount of labor. As an example of this: in Britain male overseers and clerks who worked in the textile mills would earn fifteen through thirty-two shillings a week for their work, while female assistant overseers would be paid nine to ten shillings a week for their work. From this we can see that women were usually paid one-third to one-half of what men earned, and children were paid even less than that which made it very challenging to make a sustainable living during the industrial revolution; and it is here is when we start to see a spike in feminism and gender equality movements to support equal pay, safer working conditions, and equal treatment.
Rise of Middle Class
Furthermore, during the revolution, there was also a rise in middle-class citizens, which meant that with the new higher-paying jobs that were being created people had the chance to save more money. “The middle class underwent enormous expansion in the 19th century as a consequence of the Industrial Revolution. The Industrial Revolution offered both new forms of production and new scales of production that provided much more flexible investments than the land held by the nobility and the Church. The new middle class was not united or homogeneous. At the lower end of the new middle class were small shopkeepers who found their livelihood at the bottom of the expanding capitalist economy. At the other end were large capitalists who owned companies. Although there were enormous differences in wealth and prestige between the different members of the middle class, they all shared an interest in a new concept, the “expansion of the economy.”
Agricultural vs Industrial Economy
Lastly, there was a drastic change in the economy, Europe slowly started transitioning from an agricultural economy to an industrial one. Before industrialization, countries like England and France had a predominantly agricultural economy, which meant that people lived in the countryside and would make a living off farming and growing crops. Clothes were made by hand by women and would often take weeks to finish, crops would take a long time to be produced because there were not any efficient machines to make the job faster. Once industrialization started becoming increasingly popular families would move from the countryside to rural cities in hopes of better opportunities and more efficient jobs, as well as a chance to get better pay. With a new industrial economy, there was a rise in new technology, resources such as coal, and the invention of electricity. As mentioned before, the entire family was switching over to the workforce as women and children both left their household chores behind and started working in factories and mines. “With the new machines in the city, the demand for farmers began decreasing, which forced the remaining farmers to move to the city in hopes of finding jobs for their family members. Industrialism prescribes an economy not connected to land, and economy that is placeless and displacing. Meaning it does not distinguish one place from another. It applies its methods and technologies indiscriminately all over the globe. It thus continues the economy of colonialism.
The shift of colonial power from European monarchy to a global corporation is perhaps the dominant theme of modern history. All along, it has been the same story of the gathering of an exploitative economic power into the hands of a few people who are alien to the places and the people they exploit. Such an economy is bound to destroy locally adapted agrarian economies everywhere it goes.”
Consequently, the Industrial Revolution brought many small states together into countries and empires. The rapid industrialization of the Germanic and Italian states brought them each to their unification and it did have a major influence in bringing us into war. This revolution brought new military weapons that could cause greater casualties, more railroads were opened and improved which meant that these weapons and supplies could be transported faster to the armies. Along with rapid industrialization came extensive wealth, and soon enough countries were competing against each other in order to become the most successful and powerful country. One of the main causes of World War One is Imperialism, and the revolution had a lot to do with imperialism because it pushed countries to go out and explore more unknown territory in search of new materials and resources. And while bigger countries were expanding and getting wealthier smaller countries who hadn’t industrialized as fast would make alliances with these bigger countries.
Revolutionary Advantages and Changes
As a result, the Industrial Revolution brought revolutionary advantages and changes to Europe, it also brought a vast range of challenges and tensions to these countries because of the exploitation and horrid working conditions of men, women, and children, and evident gender pay gap between men and women as well as a more defined middle class, and the beginning challenges of transitioning from an agricultural economy to an industrial economy. The Revolution brought significant social and economic tensions in Europe. It introduced new technologies and inventions that made life easier and new opportunities arise, however, it also contributed to the world war looming behind it as all the main causes like alliances, nationalism, and militarism were embedded in it.