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Social Consequences of the Industrial Revolution
The Industrial Revolution brought many changes to western civilization. Two of the most significant social consequences of the Industrial Revolution are urban crowding and worker safety. Migration of workers to urban areas, where factory work was available, was a major contributor of over-crowding in these areas. This gave rise to increasing crime rates, housing, and sanitation issues (Zonderman, 1992 ). Unemployment was high and there was no job security. Injured workers were replaced without compensation. With the Industrial Revolution, child labor was common, as machines simplified the work and it was cheaper to pay children. Injury rates among factory workers were high. Small hands were easily caught in the machines. In the early 1830’s legislations were put in place to protect the workers (Honeyman, 2008). These early factory laws were concerned with health, safety, working hours and working conditions. Factory conditions were regulated by the states and in1833 the Factory Act was passed (Honeyman, 2008).
The Industrial Revolution and Capitalism
Capitalism is an economic system in which means of production are owned by individuals or private companies, who invest money to make a profit. Capitalism focuses on the free market with little or no governmental regulations. Prior to the Industrial Revolution, agriculture was the primary means of support and people worked within their homes (Zonderman, 1992 ). With the event of the Industrial Revolution society changed to one of commodities and production and the need to make individual profit. Machines gave rise to increased productivity and reduced the need for skilled or specialized laborers (Zonderman, 1992 ). The ability to produce goods on a large scale allowed for these goods to be sold for less. Individuals or companies with money could invest in newer technologist, finding faster and cheaper ways to produce goods. This destroyed small, local businesses, forcing them to seek employment as factory workers. With more people seeking employment, and no minimum wage, laborers were paid cheaper wages. Child labor was prevalent and work conditions deplorable. There were no equal or fair compensation for these workers. All profits were kept by these individuals and companies increasing their wealth.
Capitalism and Communism.
Communism focuses on the division of wealth as a community, sharing profits and losses. The goal of the communist theory, is equality among all members of society. The communist theory was born to counteract the abuses of the capitalist society, advocating for workers’ rights (Hands, 2011). Karl Marx believed that capitalism was just the latest form of exploitation in a long list of tyrannical rule (Hands, 2011). Marx ideal society, based on the communist theory, would see the disappearance of class structure, equal rights for men, women, and children, equal and adequate housing for everyone, with everyone working for the benefit of each other.
Differences between Capitalist and Communist Philosophies.
The capitalist society promotes individual gains and give rise to a class system. Individuals own the means of production and invest their capital to make a profit for themselves. These profits are not shared with the working class who help to make the profits. The communist theory, on the other hand, promotes community properties and equality for all. Businesses and properties would be government owned and everyone share equally in the profits and losses. Benefits are based on individual needs (Hands, 2011). The capitalist philosophy gives rise to a distinct class system, where the elites are the rulers (they own the wealth, therefore they make the rules). The wealthy investors had access to the best schools, housing and medical attention as they could afford to pay for the services. In the communist philosophy, the class system would disappear. Everyone work for the good of the community and enjoy equal, good quality housing, education, and medical care.
Hands, G. (2011). Understanding Marx . London, GBR: Hodder Education. Honeyman, K. (2008). Book Cover Child Workers in England, 1780-1820 : Parish Apprenticeship and the Making of the Early Industrial Labour Force. Abingdon, Oxon, GBR : Ashgate Publishing Group . Zonderman, D. A. ( 1992 ). Book Cover Aspirations and Anxieties : New England Workers and the Mechanized Factory System, 1815-1850. Cary, NC, USA : Oxford University Press .