Effects of the Industrial Revolution on the Working Class Family

Essay by mele_timberlakeCollege, UndergraduateA, April 2004

download word file, 6 pages 4.3

The industrial revolution was the widespread replacement of manual labor by machines that began in Britain in the 18th century and is still continuing in some parts of the world today. The industrial revolution was the result of many fundamental, interrelated changes that transformed agricultural economies into industrial ones. Consequently, these rapid technological changes affected the lives of millions of people. The early industrial revolution lead to the exploitation of workers in factories and the conditions in the factories were ghastly. Moreover, these factories produced densely inhabited cities where many resided in atrocious living conditions. Finally, not only were the working class families who dwelled in the cities affected, many agricultural laborers faced hard times during this era as well.

The industrial revolution proved that products could be created with much more efficiency through the use of innovative and resourceful machinery. Nevertheless, workers in factories struggled because they had to work long hours under horrid conditions--in other words, they were exploited to the full extent.

Children were of no exception. Most children began working in factories at the age of eight to ten years old and this underage workforce (under the age of 18) took up almost half of the proportion of workers. Employers chose such young children to hire because they discovered that youngsters adapted more easily to machines and factory order than did adults. Consequently, children were taken away from their parents and were deprived of such necessities as reading and writing. Not only this, but the long hours spent in the factories "dulled their minds, and the long hours spent in often unsanitary environments endangered their health." (Doc. 1) Testimonies, to the Sadler Commission on Child Labor (1832), such as that of William Cooper, a young boy working in a flax mill, prove that the children had...