Eurasia in the World II
25 February 2010
The Industrial Revolution
The Industrial Revolution of the 18th and 19th centuries led to drastic socioeconomic and cultural changes for the average working-class European. The evolution of labor through machinery had a number of implications including the mass production of goods, job opportunities for the less skilled, and an open door to further innovation and technological advancement. This movement sparked the birth of modern cities and unrestricted commerce both domestically and internationally. Though not without its flaws, the Industrial Revolution remains one of the most important events in human history.
The first Industrial Revolution is largely characterized by the emphasis on female and child labor. As opposed to the classic archetype of male-dominated families that had existed for hundreds of years in pre-industrial society, women and children were sought after to work in the spinning and weaving mills. Adult men were undesirable workers for several reasons, most notably because their hands were simply too large to operate and clean the machinery in the textile mills (The Human Revolution, Handout 1). Unfortunately, child laborers were easy targets for exploitation, and frequently suffered from unreasonably long workdays and unsafe factory conditions.
A typical day for a factory worker between 1830 and 1840 generally began at 5 or 6 a.m. and could continue past 10 p.m. However, had the overseer felt that the day had been unproductive, extensions could be added to increase the total time to as much as 18 grueling hours. One of the most popular roles for women and young men was referred to as “bobbin doffing” in which the workers would be required to remove yarn from spindles of rotating water frames (The Industrial Revolution Labor Old and New 24). This work was not only monotonous and laborious, but also stressful, because the frames spun at such a high rate....