The Industrial Revolution

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Data:03.10.2006
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The Industrial Revolution
The Industrial Revolution increased the development of the modern society.
In many countries the industry became more and more important and the new system interested particulary the the textile industry and the production of steel and iron.
In England there had been important transformations: a political-social revolution with the ascent of the middle class and the end of the feudal powers.
Many agricultural techniques were introduced with the consequent increase of productivity and the mercantile capitalism was very important, because there was the possibility to be supplied with materials for the industry.

The first transformation of the industrial production took place in the cotton fabric, thanks to the important role of the colonies. The East India Company imported high quality cotton and it was possible to import now material from America too.
The centre of cotton fabric moved from India to England and in the 1830 people who worked in this sector were 1 million and half.
The mechanization of textile fabric was caused by the use of the spool that doubled the capacity of the loom, and the use of spinning machine.
The most important innovation was the invention of the steam machine that increased the production of iron.
So in the second part of revolution the economic was based on the metallurgy.

Land property elevated the middle-class to the same level of nobles. The last feudal rights were abolished and in 1845 enclosures were issued in favor of great land owners.
There was in England a link between capitalist development in agriculture and industrialization with the arrival of many peasants who had no more ties with the countryside and looked for job in the city.

The second phase of the industrial revolution was characterized by the domination of metallurgic industry and also by the railways and the steam the steam-navigation.
About the industries the iron and mechanic sectors became more and more important and it was necessary to have raw materials, capitals and labor.
In regarding communications, steam navigation became important thanks to the invention of the first steamboat; and to communicate people used the telegraph invented by Morse.

The industrial revolution led to many social problems among the working class:
1. Overpopulation in towns and bad houses.
With the “enclosures act” farmers had to abandon the countryside and to move to the cities where they lived in very bad conditions: the houses were small and not safe, and they had to work in very bad places, such as mines and factories.
2. Working condition and child labor.
The working time was from 12 to 16 hours a day and the pay was not enough for the survival of the family.
So also women and children had to work. Their demand increased when machines didn’t need any more the physic strength. Moreover their pay was lower than men’s one.
Children were exploited in mines to reach the narrowest places. For this reason many of them got ill and child mortality increased.
Politicians tried to limit child labor by same laws such as the “Factory Act” of 1833, actually it remained up to the 20th century.
3. Luddities.
The introduction of machines caused the unemployment of many craftsmen and weavers who could no longer complete with features that required time to produce more products and cloth than them.
So the unemployed workers began destroying features and machines that had token their job. These attackers became known as Luddities, supposedly followers of Ned Ludd, a folklore figure. The first attack wan in 1811.
The luddite movement rapidly gained popularity and the British government had to take drastic measures to protect industry.
It was stated the death penalty to people who destroyed machines.
4. Unions and Strikes
The workers began to create unions to improve their condition of life.
The main method used was the strike action.
Strikes were painful to both the unions and the management, in fact they damaged the manager’s profiets, but workers had to deal with the violence of police and with the prejudice that striking workers were the same as criminals.
In 1799 was imposed the “Combination Act” which workers to form any kind of trade union.
Actually workers continued to fight until this act was repealed in 1824.

The capitalistic bourgeoisie was the new emergent class that had the control of the business activities. Therefore it became the new dominant class.
It supported the free market and the possibility for the instructed people to catch up the ruling classes.
The laborers became an instrument of job, forced to carry out the same activities and to follow the speed of the machines.
For the disumane living condition, in witch the worker it was forced to live, the state created several laws against the exploitation such as:
• The prohibition to work in nocturnal hours under the age of 18 or to hire children under 9 years;
• The working hours were reduced to 6 and half for the children and 12 for the adults.

Despite these laws, and the many others by the state, the situation remained unchanged for many years.

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