The Industrial Revolution refers to a series of significant shifts in traditional practices of agriculture, manufacturing, and transportation, as well as the development of new mechanical technologies that took place between the late
18th and 19th centuries in much of the Western world. During this time, the
United Kingdom, as well as the rest of Europe and the United States soon after, underwent drastic socio-economic and cultural changes during this time. These changes in part gave rise to the English Romantic spirit, especially in the United
Kingdom. During the late 18th century, the United Kingdom’s economic system of manual and animal based labor shifted toward a system of machine manufacturing while more readily navigable roads, canals, and railroads for trade began to develop. Steam power underpinned the dramatic increase in production capacity, as did the rather sudden development of metal tools and complex machines for manufacturing purposes.
The Industrial Revolution had a profound effect upon society in the United
Kingdom. It gave rise to the working and middle classes and allowed them to overcome the long-standing economic oppression that they had endured for centuries beneath the gentry and nobility. However, while employment opportunities increased for common working people throughout the country and members of the middle class were able to become business owners more easily, the conditions workers often labored under were brutal. Further, many of them were barely able to live off of the wages they earned. During this time, the industrial factory was created (which, in turn, gave rise to the modern city).
Conditions within these factories were often dirty and, by today’s standards, unethical: children were frequently used and abused for labor purposes and long hours were required for work. A group of people in the United Kingdom known as the Luddites felt that