Sociology and the Industrial Revolution
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The Industrial Revolution leaves us with many questions: Was the revolution in industry simply an issue of new machinery or mechanical innovation? Did young boys and girls work and live shoulder to shoulder for more than twelve hours a day? Was industrial capitalism nothing more than a clever system devised by clever capitalists to exploit the labor of ignorant workers? Was the revolution in industry the product of conscious planning or did it appear spontaneously?
The revolution was something more than just new machines, smoke-belching factories, increased productivity and an increased standard of living. Everyone was affected in one way or another. The Industrial Revolution serves as a key to the origins of modern Western society. As Harold Perkin has observed, “the Industrial Revolution was no mere sequence of changes in industrial techniques and production, but a social revolution with social causes as well as profound social effects.”
The Industrial Revolution helped to develop social studies due to the mere fact that it became easier to study social habits of people that were centralized in big cities. Before the revolution most families were rural, and spread out among the country on farms and in small towns. The revolution changed family structure and social structure forever. The revolution also brought us the new working class, and the middle class.
Another thing that changed drastically was education. Before the Industrial Revolution, there was no formal education, only a passing along of knowledge from generation to generation. Children learned how to farm, cook, clean, build, etc. Children and parents knew the same things and there would never be an advance. After the Industrial Revolution, education and knowledge of technology became more and more critical for job success.