The Industrial Revolution was a time of great age throughout the world. It represented major change from 1760 to the period 1820-1840. The movement originated in Great Britain and affected everything from industrial manufacturing processes to the daily life of the average citizen. I will discuss the Industrial Revolution and the effects it had on the world as a whole.
The primary industry of the time was the textiles industry. It had the most employees, output value, and invested capital. It was the first to take on new modern production methods. The transition to machine power drastically increased productivity and efficiency. This extended to iron production and chemical production.
It started in Great Britain and soon expanded into Western Europe and to the United States. The actual effects of the revolution on different sections of society differed. They manifested themselves at different times. The ‘trickle down’ effect whereby the benefits of the revolution helped the lower classes didn’t happen until towards the 1830s and 1840s. Initially, machines like the Watt Steam Engine and the Spinning Jenny only benefited the rich industrialists.
The effects on the general population, when they did come, were major. Prior to the revolution, most cotton spinning was done with a wheel in the home. These advances allowed families to increase their productivity and output. It gave them more disposable income and enabled them to facilitate the growth of a larger consumer goods market. The lower classes were able to spend. For the first time in history, the masses had a sustained growth in living standards.
Social historians noted the change in where people lived. Industrialists wanted more workers and the new technology largely confined itself to large factories in the cities. Thousands of people who lived in the countryside migrated to the cities permanently. It led to the growth of cities across the world, including London, Manchester, and Boston. The permanent shift from rural living to city living has endured to the present day.
Trade between nations increased as they often had massive surpluses of consumer goods they couldn’t sell in the domestic market. The rate of trade increased and made nations like Great Britain and the United States richer than ever before. Naturally, this translated to military power and the ability to sustain worldwide trade networks and colonies.
On the other hand, the Industrial Revolution and migration led to the mass exploitation of workers and slums. To counter this, workers formed trade unions. They fought back against employers to win rights for themselves and their families. The formation of trade unions and the collective unity of workers across industries are still existent today. It was the first time workers could make demands of their employers. It enfranchised them and gave them rights to upset the status quo and force employers to view their workers as human beings like them.
Overall, the Industrial Revolution was one of the single biggest events in human history. It launched the modern age and drove industrial technology forward at a faster rate than ever before. Even contemporary economics experts failed to predict the extent of the revolution and its effects on world history. It shows why the Industrial Revolution played such a vital role in the building of the United States of today.
This week, leaders from around the world will gather to under the theme Mastering the Fourth Industrial Revolution at the World Economic Forum's 46th Annual Meeting. It's a conversation that reverberates well beyond Davos, as the entries in our essay contest demonstrate.
Our shortlist covered what new technology means for the refugee crisis, for the future of jobs and for a new, less wasteful kind of economy. Out of all these thought-provoking entries, we have chosen Charisma D. Kakuru's essay on What the Fourth Industrial Revolution will do for Africa as the winner.
His essay looks at how the new combination of technologies and platforms will revolutionise the continent, from productivity, education, trade and investment, entrepreneurialism, to governance and transparency. He emphasises the importance of youth for Africa's future, participation and closing the gender gap.
Charisma will receive a signed copy of The Fourth Industrial Revolution, by Professor Klaus Schwab.
Thank you to all those who participated in the contest, and we hope you enjoyed writing your submissions as much as we enjoyed reading them.
African society is on a collision course with the developed world, and the Fourth Industrial Revolution will either reverse this trend or exacerbate it.—Charisma D. Kukuru
Ceri Parker, Commissioning Editor, Agenda, World Economic Forum
The views expressed in this article are those of the author alone and not the World Economic Forum.
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