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How The Industrial Revolution Changed Europe

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There have been lots of turning points in history which have influenced the world we live in today. All these turning points set the stage in many parts of the world for transition over time. Throughout Europe, while some things stayed the same, the Industrial Revolution changed all of Europe. The Industrial Revolution transformed Europe politically, socially and economically during the period between 1750 and 1914. Women’s role in the workplace, manufacturing techniques, and city growth in Europe all led to the Industrial Revolution and its effects. Through these factors, the Industrial Revolution changed Europe’s economic, social, and political path for many years to come.

Europe was mostly an agrarian society pre-Industrial Revolution. That meant they had been working off the ground to make money. Many Europeans had been farmers and had been working in the rural country. Once the Industrial Revolution began, all of this changed however. Manufacturing was boosted incredibly in speed thanks to product automation. Production automation all started thanks to the creation of some great inventions. The spinning jenny, invented in 1764 by James Hargreaves, was a spinning device which allowed more cotton cloth to be produced at once. James Watt and Matthew Boulton’s development/production of the steam engine also increased productivity. Steam power was largely used in power looms which became one of the Industrial Revolution’s most important technologies. The power looms made it possible not only to work faster, but also required less work overall to produce the cloth. Although all of these changes took place and manufacturing became more streamlined, many aspects still however stayed the same. In factories alongside the machines, human labor was still required. The materials which were used to make the cotton cloth were also the same. Britain was still having to import India’s raw cotton. Production automation certainly did change from before the Industrial Revolution, but some elements still remained the same.

One important transition was the role of women in the Industrial Revolution. Most of the women had stayed home before the Industrial Revolution started. They would do housework, take care of their kids, and tend to their husbands. The women’s main place and purpose was to be a loving wife and mother in the home. All this changed due to the Industrial Revolution. Women who were normally used to working at home nearby to their husbands had began to work outside the home. While men working in the factories began to strongly displace women as the Industrial Revolution progressed, women still managed to hold their jobs. They had much more time to work (children’s presence at home had declined as a result of free schools) so many women took up jobs such as teaching, nursing, sales staff, and secretaries. As more women moved for the right to vote and engage in the government, the suffrage movement also grew. All these improvements greatly helped women, but they were still not considered equal. People still tended to look down on them and found them to be inferior. They still had to take care of the kids and act as full-time wives and mothers, as well as still working and doing their new jobs. Women, despite working, were not however paid the same as men. Society mainly thought that people should earn a ‘family income’ to provide for themselves as well as their families, basically an excuse for paying men more. In the meantime however, women barely received enough money to provide for themselves, even though many also still had families. During the Industrial Revolution, women certainly gained much more rights, however some patriarchal views still persisted.

The Industrial Revolution brought many changes to Europe, and urbanization was one of the most significant changes. Urbanization was the massive cycle of people from farms and rural areas into the cities. Lots of citizens had been farmers and had lived in the countryside until urbanization and the Industrial Revolution. They would be farmers and mainly only worked from their home. Nevertheless, people began moving to the cities and started working in new factories once the Industrial Revolution kicked off, thus increasing urbanization. A big reason for this was that due to a big surplus of food, the population had greatly increased. This then provided more labor which then allowed people to begin moving into the cities, instead of just staying on the farms. More workers were also found in the cities compared to the farms due to the new technology that had greatly increased farm productivity, which then caused the demand for farmers to drop since the work wasn’t as hard. The continuity of this change, however, is that although farmers moved out of the cities to find jobs, the country still had farmers working. Farmers were still greatly needed to produce food for the growing population, but less were needed as technology had replaced some of the need for human labor. During the Industrial Revolution, urbanization was undoubtedly hugely increased.

Overall, the whole continent of Europe changed politically, socially and economically from the period from 1750 to 1914. There were many developments during the Industrial Revolution, such as manufacturing automation, increased women’s rights, and urbanization. These changes all took place due to amazing new inventions, a much greater understanding of equality, and an efficient way to feed all of Europe to make the Industrial Revolution possible. Many of these changes have also in some way still influenced the world today. In contrast to these improvements, some of Europe’s features still remained the same after the revolution. Lots of practices, professions, and values had remained the same which had impacted how the revolution developed. Eventually though, while retaining many old ‘traditions,’ the Industrial Revolution altered Europe’s economic, social, and political path for many years to come. 

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