The Impact of the Industrial Revolution on British Society

Topics: Industrial Revolution, Working class, Social class Pages: 6 (2056 words) Published: February 7, 2013
The impact of the Industrial Revolution on British society

The Industrial Revolution is considered to be an important turning point in history. It both influenced the British society and economy. This essay will focus on the impact on British society, which includes about the birth of class, standard of living and child labour. While the Industrial Revolution could be argued to have a largely negative impact on British society at that time, this essay will argue that it also had positive consequences. The first part of this essay will illustrate the division of social class and the positive consequence that some organizations were established for working classes. The second part will argue the standard of living in the industrial revolution. The last part will demonstrate the experience of child labour at that time and several possible reasons for the large numbers of child workforce in the industrial revolution, and the promulgation of laws for protecting children’s right.

Britain has experienced the world's first industrial revolution, and the period of it was generally considered from 1780 to 1830, and the Industrial Revolution promoted the national transition from predominantly agricultural to predominantly industrial. At that time, urbanization has become a significant social phenomenon in Britain. The percentage of urban population in England rose sharply from 8.0% in1600 to 27.5% in 1800, while the percentage of agricultural population dropped from 70.0% to 36.3% during that period (Hudson, 1992: 151). In addition, during this period, the population of UK had grown tremendously (Brown, 2010: 106). The number of people in England and Wales increased from 6.7 million in 1760 to 13.9 million in 1830, as well as in Scotland, the population also had an increasing (Brown, 2010: 106). Moreover, Industrial Revolution brought some important technological innovations, such as the steam engine, and the use of it had changed the production which relies on the limitations of human and animal, and provided cheap and adequate power for the industrial production. Besides, the spinning jenny and flying shuttle had been used in the textile industry and the smelting of pig iron with coke in iron industry. The following essay will focus on three parts of social consequences which include birth of class, standard of living and child labour.

Birth of class
During the industrial revolution, ‘birth of class’ became a nonnegligible social phenomenon. In this period, the formation of class had been enhanced may due to the acceleration of proletarianization, urbanization, technological and organizational change in both agriculture and industry (Hudson, 1992: 202), and the society was separated into working class, middle class and upper class, and in rural area, was separated into farm laborers, tenant farmers and landlords (Brown, 2010: 119). During this period, Aristocracy and capitalists’ income came mainly from the rent, inheritance, or the profits generated in the production process (Hudson, 1992: 203). The middle classes who composed of professionals, shopkeepers and clerks that had stable income (Brown, 2010: 120). By contrast, the working class depended on the wage which came from landlords and capitalists (Hudson, 1992: 203). For example, in 1775, London masons usually earned 15s (shillings) per week, and had less change after the decades (Rule, 1986: 119). Therefore, the income gap may be one possible reason for the enhanced of classes. Thus, wage dependent and mass work force may be the reason to explain the poor treatment for working class at that time. During the Industrial Revolution, workers were forced to work longer hours, and their leisure time was deprived. For working class, not only their normal week spare time was deprived, and even the traditional half-work day of St Monday was threatened by employers (Brown, 2010: 120). In addition, at that time, workers’ wage form was not usually the actual money, but was paid...
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