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Was Industrial Revolution Good Or Bad For The Level Of Life Of English Workers?

1968 words - 8 pages

The question above deserves many-sided comparisons. However, people’s happiness and living standard are complicated to measure because, in this period, British society was experimenting multiple transformations and some effects of the revolution had set off with others. Besides, within different time extents we may get different conclusions for this issue. Therefore, this paper will covered aspects like working and living conditions, real wage, health, mortality, freedom and rights of english workers in long run, with the objective to have a good measure of their level of life.

The English Industrial Revolution (1760-1830) was characterized by the new technologies and the prosperity of ...view middle of the document...

Since then, a huge amount of people from countryside were pouring into cities, making survival tougher. Workers had to faced to a cruel new working environment: playing a complementary role around the machine by repeating a single small task during 14 to 16 hours per day. Rapid production pace, noises, pollution, long working time, lack of protection, strait supervision and low income return relative to their contribution made the work exhausting for them.

Women and children, being undervalued, got paid much lower than adult man (20%-50% of men’s wage). Nevertheless, work was nothing less heavy and both groups were the main labor forces for some factories (textile industries) that wanted to minimize the cost.

According to many studies, different groups and industries showed an increasing revenue in varying degrees during the Industrial Revolution. Matthews' “British economic growth” displayed a workers' average annual real wage increase of 0.8% during 1780-1851. Lindert and Williamson's research data demonstrated that, between 1755-1851, an adult male worker wages increased by approximately 134%. The research of Sussex University showed the following : workers real wages basically did not change in 1755-1797, dropped between 1797-1810 but continued to grow after 1819. Wages of female and minor labors was a small increase in the magnitude of the trend. However, such improvements are still difficult to alleviate mass poverty.

With regard to living environment, workers lived basement and tenements that were constructed touching each other. Those spaces were small, crowded and poorly ventilated; life necessities were frequently not complete. In Liverpool, 20% of the total population (about 45.000 people) survived in this way; while in Manchester, 40.000-50.000 labors lived in basement.

Under those conditions, diseases such as cholera and tuberculosis raged within workers’ neighborhood. Additionally, crimes, domestic violence, and alcoholism were very frequent due to the poverty, physiological stress pressure and the monotone form of entertainment.

At this point, we can sum up that, before the mid-19th century, working class had paid enormous price for very fast economic growth. During this period, workers were the cheapest productive factor since their skills had fallen behind of technological changes. Beside, the government was still dominated by the nobility and the working class was deprived of power to make the life better off. The condition of workers was miserable.

By 1820s and 30s, British bourgeoisie, powered by commercial development, asked for political dominance. In parallel, workers were increasingly aware of their importance in large-scale industrial production, and that their labor had not been paid accordingly. But betterment of material conditions and social status would not be gained by individual efforts. In order to improve their conditions, the workers had to go along with the industrial bourgeoisie. Unfortunately,...

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