The two most significant social consequences of the First Industrial Revolution (c. 1780-1850) are urbanization and child labor. Because people moved from rural areas into cities, the living conditions changed for the worse and with the invention of the steam-operated power loom in 1785, children were able to operate this simple machine and produce textiles for the exploding population ("Begins," n.d.). The Industrial Revolution began as the development of iron making and the use of refined coal triggered the invention of machine-based manufacturing of textiles ("Industrial Revolution," n.d.).
Urbanization was a significant consequence of the First Industrial Revolution because of the poor living conditions in the larger cities. No longer working and living on rural farms, the workers needed a place to live. The British town of Manchester had a huge population growth from 17,000 residents in 1750 to 70,000 in 1801("Social Impact," n.d.). Because of the population explosion, the abundant textile factories, and the proximity to the Atlantic port of Liverpool, “Manchester quickly became the textile capital of the world” ("Effects," n.d.). The living conditions of tenements set up for factory workers were horrendous. Because there was no running water or sewage system, waste was dumped into the rivers creating a horrible stench throughout the city. Drinking water became contaminated and diseases such as cholera spread throughout the city ("Social Impact," n.d.).
Child labor was rampant during the Industrial Revolution because cheap labor was vital to the profitable production of textiles. Children received pay of 1/10th of an adult and they could reach into tight spaces to easily perform maintenance on the new machines ("Effects," n.d.). Children would work long hours at tedious jobs in dangerous factories until over 75 years of reforms and several Factory Acts were passed. In 1802 the Health and Morals of Apprentices Act (HMAA) was passed. The HMAA limited work hours to 12 per day disallowing night work. It mandated employers to provide education, decent clothing, and accommodation for workers; and textile factories employing more than 20 workers had to provide proper ventilation. In 1833 the first Factory Act was implemented stating that children under nine were no longer permitted to work in factories, children under the age of 13 could not work more than 48 hours per week and nine hours per day; and children under 18 could not work the night shift. By 1844, a new Factory Act was implemented to state that children under the age of 13 could not work more than 6.5 hours per day and employing children under eight was unlawful. The Factory Act of 1878 extended Factory Acts to all industries, stated no child under 10 years of age could be employed, and 10-14 year olds could only work half days, thus ending the exploitation of children of the Industrial Revolution ("Reform," n.d.).
The First Industrial...