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Why It Happened Essay

1046 words - 4 pages

Undoubtedly, transitions between economic and political systems used in a society usually change the status and roles of certain groups and individuals in a society. The Industrial Revolution that took pace in the Western World and Japan in the 18th and 19th centuries marked the transition from feudal and agrarian societies to the capitalist systems based off the classical liberal writings of the Age of Enlightenment (18th century). Within fifty years after the start of the Industrial Revolution in Western Europe, the status and role of the lower classes of women had changed, with women performing work outside the home, earning wages comparable to their husbands. The lower classes also began to be able to find legitimate work to form the working class or proletariat. However, through the 18th and 19th centuries, the role of women and the lower class and increased and decreased several times in response to new movements, events, and the transition between economic systems. In spite of these changes, the status of women of upper classes in most states was not affected until after World War I, keeping them out of the workplace and away from the feminist movements. Additionally, although Marxism became the foundation for the economic systems of many communist and socialist states that would soon rise, true “dictatorships of the proletariat” did not develop nor did any similar events ever occur during this time.
Before the 18th century, most European states were either feudal or agrarian; however, after the start of imperial conquests and the development of the world economy, proto-industrialization had started, setting the stage for the Industrial Revolution. People of the lower class often worked as serfs, servants, and, most often, worked on farms. Women were usually needed to tend to and harvest crops on the farm in addition to serving as the caretaker of the children; women of the upper classes had few responsibilities other caring for children, which they were frequently assisted in doing. After European states began to desire higher production of finished products, women and lower class people occasionally found work as artisans and spinners of cotton textiles in small “cottages”, giving women a better way to provide for their family, and the modern working class or proletariat began to form. In 1764, when the spinning jenny was invented, the proto-industrialization became even more widespread and prevalent throughout most of Western Europe and in the northern American colonies; early factories became practical as well. By this time, the transition of women from homemakers and farm workers, alongside their more productive, “superior” husbands, to textile spinners and other similar jobs became present throughout Western Europe. During this century, these changes did not affect upper class women nor did they affect lower class people in Eastern Europe until what is referred to as the Second Industrial Revolution. Women in the upper classes...

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