Social stratification is rooted in the unequal distribution of power between various entities and people along the supply and demand chain. Consequently, social classes emerge due to this inequity as people who have more control over production and distribution of goods and services are deemed to have more power in the society and are regarded to be of a higher social class (Morris 31). In the article, "The Industrial Revolution: Class & Common Interest", the author dwells on the impact of the industrial revolution between the 18th and 19th centuries on social stratification and classes. In particular, Morris talks about how the British people were affected, and the resultant power shifts that were caused by the emergence of new technology and economic changes. Although conflicts between the upper social class and people with no power was not a new phenomenon, the industrial revolution displaced elements that were crucial to maintaining the balance between the social classes (Morris 33)
The industrial revolution brought change in all main realms of life, economic, social, and political. Economically, the country underwent a rapid transformation as steam-power machinery was invented. Moreover, mass production machines in the textile industry were introduced. As such, factories had a higher capacity to produce and better transport mechanism to distribute their merchandise. This newfound technology translated to better income for the factory owners and other people who relied on the factorys products to produce their goods. Consequently, an economic middle class grew in number, and more people began working in the urban areas where factories and their dependent businesses were situated as opposed to working on their farms. These would later result in an adverse food shortage, which played a significant role in shifting the political power.
Before the industrial revolution, the conflict between the powerful and lower class over food and amenities would be settled by ordering merchants to distribute their produce within the country at a reasonable price. However, a shift in industrial activity, as opposed to agricultural activities, led the country to become an importer of foodstuffs. As such, the ensuing conflicts could no longer be settled as easily. Additionally, the numerous factories and increased competition saw employers opt for child labor, cruel treatment, and negligence of workers well-being in a bid to maximize profits. These reason coupled with the ever-growing population saw the rise of politicized union movements that championed the rights of the workers. After much resistance from the ruling political class, they would later result in a shift in political power as the middle-income factory owner sought to increase their power and factory workers began to have an interest in politics to champion for their rights.
Socially, the industrial revolution led to the progressive breakdown of the family unit. Before the revolution, more than half the population lived in rural areas where they were dependent on agriculture. However, the inception of the revolution forced many people to move into urban areas to work in the factories. Further, because the majority of workers were children and women, there was very little interaction time leading deterioration of the family unit (Levine and Wrightson 300-350). Additionally, degrading conditions in the factory that even the husbands were subjected to played a role in undermining the traditional family structure.
Although I found the article captivating, I did not like the manner in which it concentrated on political and economic matters while hardly talking about the social aspect or the positive impacts of the industrial revolution. Furthermore, it paints a somewhat biased picture and does not give a proper perspective of the effects of the industrial revolution unlike the text, which dwells on the details and gives a very clear picture.
Morris, R. J. "The Industrial Revolution: Class & Common Interest". History Today;May83, Vol. 33.Issue 5 (1983): p31-35. Print.
Levine, David and Keith Wrightson. The Making Of An Industrial Society. Oxford [England]: Clarendon Press, 1991. Print.
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