In what way and to what extent did the Enlightenment change Western society?

Essay by van_EcksHigh School, 10th grade January 2006

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Europe's ongoing change in commerce and manufacturing changed the face of Western society, both socially and economically. Developing economic changes mirriored those of popular culture and intellectual life; these parallels were the result of commercial expansion. International trade was flourishing and its reach was found in virtually all of the West; obviously, this was a prominent factor in the evolution of society.

Ordinary Westerners began to buy processed goods from Indonesia and the West Indies for daily use, such as refined sugar, coffee, and tea. This was a sign of the growing importance of Europe's new colonies for ordinary life and the beginnings of mass consumerism.

The new developments of commerce and manufacturing greatly altered the Western society after the 16th century. Changes were occurring both economically and socially throughout Europe, which continued until the 1700s and affected nearly the entire society.

From the 16th century to the 18th century, the West experienced both economical and social changes.

The common economic changes of this time period brought about the beginnings of mass consumerism to the Western society. As a result of this, social transformations were occurring and led to a different public outlook. Processed products, such as coffee, tea, and refined sugar, were becoming a part of everyday life in European society. The frequent use of professional entertainment as part of popular recreation was also found. Agriculturally, medieval methods were being replaced with new, more modern techniques. This was a result of the new inventions that came out of the Scientific Revolution. Techniques such as improved stock breeding, use of nitrogen-fixing crops, and swamp drainage emerged throughout European farms. New World crops, such as the potato, increased the food supply and the population. An outcome of these agricultural advances and the growth...