Industrial Revolution Affected Society

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Updated: Mar 14, 2023
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The industrial revolution affected society during the late 1700s-mid 1800s by increasing production and improving communication, but it also caused harsh working conditions and pollution. The increase of production caused by new organizational strategies and new inventions, such as the industrial mill and the factory system, increased job opportunities and lowered prices, improving the quality of life. Communication enhanced during the industrial revolution due to new inventions, such as the telegraph, which enabled long-distance communication for business and private matters. Factory workers had to experience hard labor during the industrial revolution because of long work hours, harsh conditions and received low pay.

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As more factories and machines were built, the rate of pollution increased, causing diseases to spread.

The industrial revolution caused production to significantly increase, making goods cheaper and easier to attain. In 1790, Samuel Slater opened the first cotton mill in the US in Rhode Island which speeded up the process of which cotton thread could be spun into yarn. This speeded process produced more yarn than the traditional hand-spinning technique in a shorter amount of time, making the yarn cheaper. An example of a new organizational strategy that was a result of the industrial revolution is the factory system which was brought into the United States in 1790.

This is a system of manufacturing goods in a factory where workers produce goods on a large scale compared to the former cotton industry where workers produced goods in their cottages and produced only enough to support them and their families. These new inventions and systems brought in during the industrial revolution brought change that enable the increase in production (Economic Growth and the Early Industrial Revolution; Market Revolution).

The industrial revolution enhanced communication making it more convenient. Inventions such as the morse code and telegraph have revolutionized the ability to communicate at long distances. The telegraph and morse code were developed in the 1830s-40s by Samuel Morse. The telegraph transmitted electrical signal over a wire laid between stations. The morse code was a set of dots and dashes assigned to each letter of the alphabet.

This allowed for telegraphs to simply transmission complex messages. The first message through the telegraph was on May 24, 1844, over an experimental line from Washington, D.C., to Baltimore. The telegraph enabled communication across the Atlantic ocean from the U.S. to Europe which made the reports of news to reach separate countries or two people faster and more convenient ( Impact of the Telegraph | Collection Highlights | Articles and Essays | Samuel F. B. Morse Papers at the Library of Congress, 1793-1919 | Digital Collections | Library of Congress).

The industrial revolution factory workers had to labor in harsh conditions which caused their wellbeing to deteriorate. As more factories are built, especially in Massachusetts, New York, job opportunities increased and people from all ages, mostly immigrants, became workers, including children because of their size they were more suited for jobs than adults. The factory was a polluted and dangerous environment. Most workers, especially children, weren’t experienced with the machinery and so it was common for them to lose a finger or a limb while handling the machine. It was dark with scarce light that came through the window which made handling the already dangerous machine even harder. Workers had to labor in the factories for 12-16 hours a day, six days a week, and had no breaks other than for lunch and dinner. They had to go to work everyday, even when sick, in fear they might get fired. They received pay as low as $8-$10 a week, hardly enough to support themselves, let alone a family.

This harsh environment caused children to have physical deformities because of the dangerous machinery, lack of sunlight and lack of exercise. The harsh working conditions caused both children and adults to be prone to diseases such as cancer, typhoid, and typhus ( Booth, Charles; Hamilton 207-208; Appendix 44. Sweatshops: Excerpt from Louis Levine’s Description of Turn-of-the-Century Abuses in Garment-Industry Sweatshops”; History of Sweatshops: 1820-1880).

The increase of industrialization during the industrial revolution caused a significant increase of smog and soot which increased the rate of pollution. The main source of energy during the Industrial Revolution was coal because of its natural form and abundance. When coal is burned to release energy, the smoke contaminates the air causing air pollution. During the Industrial Revolution, factories began releases toxins and pollutants into the streams and rivers causing water pollution. The water and air pollution was so significant that during the mid-1800s epidemics respiratory and intestinal diseases such as cholera and typhoid had spread (Transformation into an Industrial Society).
The increase of production, enhanced communication, harsh working conditions and pollution in society were all effects from the industrial revolution.

New organizational strategies, such as the factory system, and new inventions, such as the industrial mill, that were brought into during the industrial revolution increased the production. The industrial revolution enhanced communication because of new inventions such as the telegraph which enabled long-distance communication for business and private matters. During the industrial revolution, factory workers had to experience hard labor during the industrial revolution because of long work hours, harsh conditions and received low pay. As more factories and machines were built, the rate of pollution increased, harming the environment and society with it.

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Industrial Revolution Affected Society. (2019, May 10). Retrieved from