Advantages to the working class from the Industrial Revolution

Topics: Industrial Revolution, Capitalism, Socialism Pages: 9 (1734 words) Published: January 15, 2015

Human Civilization II- HIS 2140


Natalie White – 1869
Thiuni Peiris – 3735
Chatura Karunatilake – 3739

The Industrial Revolution
The period from the 18th to the 19th century in England saw overwhelming effects on its cultural and socioeconomic conditions due to the industrial revolution which resulted in astounding changes in agriculture, manufacturing, mining, transport, and technology, that thereafter spread to European Countries, North America, and eventually the world.

Throughout the years, the industrial revolution has captured the minds of a vast number of historians and economists. The era resulting in the shift of England’s previously manual labour and draft-animal–based economy towards machine-based manufacturing, there is no doubt it is one of the most important events that took place in history, the sole reason why we are enjoying and living the life we are today.

Industrial Revolution: The reason for increasing quality of life for workers and their families Many historians have strongly opposed against certain aspects of the event. Of all the opposition, the most common and oldest, the aspect in which this report is vividly based on, is how the industrial revolution affected the working class. While some, the pessimists, argue that the standard of living of the working class during this period tremendously fell, others, the optimists, argued that the standard of living rose.

Peoples belief in what R.M. Hartwell stipulates as the “theory of immiseration”—a belief that unrestrained capitalism was making the rich richer and the poor poorer during the industrial revolution (Hartwell, History and Ideology, 1974), are the results of pessimistic writers such as Friedrich Engels, who wrote, “The Conditions of the Working Class in England in 1844”, Charles Dickens, “Oliver Twist” and J. L. Hammond, “The Industrial Revolution and Discontent”, whom with their works have put forth pessimistic ideas which amalgamate the misery of the working class with the term industrial revolution.

As Nobel laureate F.A. Hayek points out, the industrial revolution viewed from the pessimists perspective is the “one supreme myth which more than any other has served to discredit the economic system to which we owe our modern day civilization” (Hayek, up. 9-10) and in the words of another Nobel Prize winner for economic sciences, Robert E. Lucas, Jr., "For the first time in history, the living standards of the masses of ordinary people have begun to undergo sustained growth. ... Nothing remotely like this economic behavior has happened before." (Lucas, 2002)

This report, hereon would adopt an optimistic perspective, debating that while the real wages of the working class increased, the mortality rates of the working class decreased, which indicate the improvement of the quantitative and qualitative standards of living. There is, without doubt, no declining that there was a substantial level of economic and social unrest during the industrial revolution, but this paper reasons out as to why government interventions, namely the Napoleonic Wars were the causes and not merely capitalism. Increase in Real Wages

As economic historians continued to study the industrial revolution many of them came to conclusions which stated that there was certainly an increase in the standard of living. An economics professor and historian, Jeffery Williamson, has concluded, based on reliable statistical evidence put forth by Sir John Clapham in his book “An Economic History of Modern Britain in 1926” and his own research that in fact the real wages indeed rose. Williamson has even gone on to state that “unless new errors are discovered, the debate over real wages in the early nineteenth century is over: the average worker was much better off in any decade from...

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