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The industrial revolution began in the early 1760s and ended around the 1840s. It took over a century to transform American systems, and its impact is still felt today. This was the second industrial revolution after the first wave of industrialization was witnessed in Great Britain and the rest of Europe. The industrial revolution left behind far-reaching consequences that have characterized the American economy up to date. It has greatly influenced the direction that American economic, social, and political life has followed through the years. On the other hand, with increasing information technology, another revolution is underway. In the 21st and 20th centuries, the information revolution is fast changing the world, which was established after the industrial revolution.
These two revolutions have extensive similarities. This paper will canvas how the industrial revolution altered the economy of the United States of America. It will then discuss, in detail, how the information revolution is again changing the economy that has survived for over two centuries. The paper will illustrate specific sectors in which these revolutions have significantly altered. It is vital to interrogate the effects of these revolutions in order to comprehensively infer how life on Earth will be in the next century. Even though their impact has been felt across all spheres of life, the crux of this paper shall be with regard to the economy of the United States.
How it works
Despite the fact that the industrial revolution arrived in America late, compared to other European countries with the exception of Germany, its impact on the American economy was enormous. The changes introduced were spectacular and significantly ameliorated the status of the economy. These changes were mainly experienced in the mining, agriculture, technology, transport, and manufacturing industries. The result was a fundamental shift in how these industries conducted their business. One of the significant changes occurred in the production units. There was a swift change to machine-made products from hand-made products. As a result, there emerged factory productions, which were a massive improvement from the home-based cottage industries. This ensured that more goods were produced.
Moreover, the production process was not only faster but also produced better quality goods in a more efficient way than before. This reduced the cost of production while increasing the supply of goods in the market. Most people were able to afford these goods at affordable prices. In addition to this, increased production created a lot of job opportunities as factories and emerging industries sought to increase the production rate and scope. Many people, including women and young people, were able to find jobs. It reduced the rate of unemployment and provided thousands of people with a means to earn a living. This increased the rate of economic growth of the country while also ameliorating the lives of American citizens.
The industrial revolution was also characterized by the discovery of water-driven and power steam machines that were significantly instrumental as catalysts of the revolution. They were used to propel weaving and spinning machines. This saw the enormous growth of the textile industry. The industrial revolution can be fundamentally analyzed in three distinct yet interrelated developmental phases. The first phase, and perhaps the most significant of the three, began after the War of 1812. This period was categorized with massive transportation changes. The need was realized after the effects of war when the shortage of goods was caused by poor connectivity. Therefore, extensive efforts and resources were allocated to improve the country’s infrastructure. As a result, there was an increase in trade, and the manufacturing industry grew exponentially.
The second phase saw the growth and development of electrical power. The discovery of electricity and the development of the requisite technology to enable it to be used in factories was a significant step. Measures were developed to ensure prudent usage and effective supply. This transformed the economy by making it operational 24/7. The third phase of the industrial revolution witnessed the transformation of production processes and methods to ensure that more output was generated than before. This was because of increased demand for goods as people began having more purchasing power. It was within this period, around 1844, that saw the development of better communication systems. Telegraphy was invented in 1844 by Morse Samuel.
Industrialization also altered the demographic patterns in the United States. There was a lot of rural-urban migration as people went to urban centers to look for employment opportunities. This led to the rapid expansion of cities like Chicago and New York, which became home to thousands of workers. It was at this period that the subject of per-capital economic growth began. The capitalist nature of the United States economy began to take shape. Several sectors of the economy under the government, the private sector, and the worker’s unions began to emerge and take their place in history.
Just like the industrial revolution that hit the world in the 18th and 19th centuries, the information revolution brought significant changes during the 20th and this 21st centuries. The information revolution denotes the development of numerous technologies in this century and the previous one. The world has witnessed the discovery and development of computers, microchips, and digital communication. This has led to a significant reduction in the costs and rates of transmitting, storing, processing, obtaining, and transmitting information. This has been mainly in the form of video, graphics, text, and audio.
These dramatic changes are also greatly altering the nature of the American economy. Just like the way there was a transition from an agrarian economy to an industrial economy, the United States economy is changing from an industrial economy to an information economy. This is where the economy is knowledge-based and technologically driven. Currently, there are millions of professionals working in high technology companies, more than there are in industries. The cardinal product of this emerging economy is quickly becoming the information or knowledge that is generated by highly qualified technical experts. The invention of computer chips was a significant step toward the progression of this revolution. These chips have completely transformed and revolutionized the way people and companies run their businesses. Computers, calculators, and phones, among other electronic appliances, have become extremely instrumental in the modern world. The American economy is increasingly becoming dependent on these devices. Wall Street, the treasury, and the Federal Reserve Bank are heavily reliant on information generated by professionals using these devices.
This means that information is quickly becoming a factor of production. It is expected that by the end of the century, it will become the single most valuable factor of production that will thus fetch the highest price at market rates. The economy is experiencing a fundamental shift whereby informational value is being sold. Its value is determined by the nature and volume of its contents. Research and development units have been established in all most all companies that seek to retain their relevance in the contemporary competitive world. These units are in charge of ensuring the processing and development of information. This is referred to as managerial functions.
In conclusion, the contemporary world is experiencing an information revolution that is changing a lot of established structures. This comes barely two centuries following the industrial revolution that significantly changed the life of man on Earth. There are two main events in the history of man that have stood out as extremely significant. These include the industrial revolution and the domestication of animals by man. It has been argued that the information revolution may soon join this exceptional list. The two revolutions have greatly altered the economy of the United States of America. Industrialization facilitated a lot of changes in manufacturing, mining, agriculture, and transport, among others. The same is being replicated by the information revolution. Companies are now mostly involved in the collection, exchange, processing, production, distribution control, and transmission of information as a cardinal economic activity. This has seen the rise of thousands of data companies.
Information labor is quickly replacing manual labor. The economy is now becoming heavily reliant on information rather than the output of industries. This revolution is inevitable, and it is highly advisable for all people to quickly embrace information technology. Failure will result in an elimination process that was described by Charles Darwin as the ‘elimination of the weak species’ in a’ survival for the fittest’ battle.
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