Social Changes During the Industrial Revolution

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Two of the most significant social changes brought about by the Industrial Revolution were the urbanization of cities and the changes in class structure. As industry grew throughout Britain, there was a need for people to operate the machinery that were fueling this change in economy. Products no longer needed to be handmade on farms, but could be mass produced at a significantly lower cost and at a faster rate. The industrialized machinery produced good s that were cheaper and cloth that was of better quality than the handmade textiles. As rural farmers and artisans began to lose business to these expanding industries and were no longer able to support themselves or their families, they would move the entire family into what became highly populated areas (cities) to find work. This is what is known as urbanization, a mass migration of people relocating to a city. These migrants were in search of the higher wages that would be earned by becoming a factory worker. This influx of farmers and artisans and their families had an impact on the economies of these emerging cities. These cities were not prepared to support the social and life functions of these new citizens in terms of food supply, clothing needs, and providing housing. Sanitation systems were challenged due to overcrowding leading to deaths because of infections. Industry workers typically lived in poorly constructed tenements not far from their place of employment, and crowded entire families into small living quarters. Urbanization also caused a major change in the social class structure of these cities. The workers not only lived in deplorable conditions, but they worked long hours in hazardous environments. In Hands (2011) study on Marx, these workers became what Marx referred to as a “proletariat” (p. 55) class. Whereas previously, the industrial workers were independent artisans and worked for
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