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Why Is It Said That the Industrial Revolution Was a Positive Change for Some People and a Negative Change for Others?

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The Industrial Revolution which started during the XVIII century in England and later spread onto the rest of the world was a turning point in the society of those times. Even though it was not the result of a cleverly designed scheme, it proved to be a necessary event for the people in England, the rest of Europe and America. It is important to stand out that the Enlightenment was crucial for the Industrial Revolution to happen as it was a movement that cherished the use of reason and the application of reason to natural laws leading to subsequent progress. The development of science and technology promoted by the Enlightenment intellectuals contributed to new discoveries and the creation of new machines.  All this would later have a key role in the industrialization period.   This Revolution brought about positive changes and opportunities to the middle-class society but at the same time negative changes in the working-class of those times.

I herein intend to analyse the result of the positive and negative changes in relation to the event that marked a turning point in the history of mankind. I will deeply focus my hypothesis on the Working- Class Realities and the concept of the Wealth of Nations.

One of the major and positive changes in the Industrial Revolution was in the nature of production in which machines replaced tools and steam and other energy sources replaced human or animal power. The enclosure of fields which favoured more efficiency and profitability had left lots of people unemployed. This was a two-sided situation. On the one hand, many people were left jobless but positively on the other hand, the technological advances applied to agriculture brought about more food, more diversity and better quality of food for more people. Those unemployed people were able to find work in the emerging industrialized cities. Technological innovations in weaving and spinning helped to meet the increasing domestic and foreign demand in terms of clothing. The transition into industrial processes was somehow guided by the spirit of freedom to choose the kind of industry men wanted to get involved in, as so-called “father of capitalism” Adam Smith stated in The Wealth of Nations. This concept encouraged the doing away with monopolies and the privileges of corporations, which would in time foster individual initiatives and innovation. Merchants proliferated under the spirit of this free trade.

Although there were clearly two social classes created by the industrial revolution, the middle-class owners of factories, banks and shipping companies, and the working class that provided the manual labor and whose standard of living wasdefinitely poor. A French medical doctor called Alphonse Guepin, who treated the poor in those times, described working-class housing in his bookon the French city on Nantes in 1835:

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The Industrial Revolution, A Histoy in documents by Laura L. Frader, 2006. Page 83 to 86.



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