The Industrial Revolution: a positive or Negative Force?

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Name: __________________________
The Industrial Revolution: A Positive or Negative Force?
The Industrial Revolution, which began in the mid-1800’s, changed the face of the world forever. It also changed the way we lived and how we did business. A lot of critics say that the Industrial Revolution may not have been the best thing for society while other industry leaders say that the Industrial Revolution shaped the way America and other Western (primarily the UK) countries live today.

The Industrial Revolution was a period that last lasted close to 100 hundred years when manufacturing processes were introduced that transformed not only production of goods and items but where and how people lived. It was a period when the focused changed from growing your own food and getting by with just what you needed to working for someone else for money.

Pre-Industrial Revolution most people lived in the countryside and grew their own food and made their own goods. Some people would sell off what they made or grew and could not use themselves. Before the revolution, bartering for goods and items was much more prevalent. As the factories popped up and the promise of better wages and easier living lured people into cities, bartering was replaced by earning money and purchasing items.
Pros of Industrial Revolution

There are many good things that came out of the industrial revolution like massed produced goods that were of higher quality than home made goods which made them safer to use. More opportunities for people that wanted them.

1. Industry Growth

The industrial revolution allowed the growth of industry. It has fueled economic growth and actually improved world trade. The industrial revolution allowed us to open up to trade with other countries. As industry grew and a surplus of goods was realized it inspired trade with other countries there by forming powerful alliances. There was seemingly no limit to how far humans could advance!

2. Opportunities

Before the industrial revolution people had limited options for professional growth. If your father was a shoe maker there was a very good possibility that you too would be a shoemaker no matter how much you hated shoes. With the growth of factory jobs people were able to leave the homestead and find different work from what their parents did. It also opened up opportunities for the craftsmen of the era to move to the city and support the factory workers and get a piece of their paycheck by making those things that they missed from home like bakery fresh breads and providing them with hair cuts. The growth of cities, an effect of the Industrial Revolution, provided new opportunities for people.

3. Free Enterprise

The industrial revolution really opened up the idea of free enterprise. Before the industrial revolution you were only given one or two choice for goods and products that were available in your little town, after the industrial revolution the competition for your dollars was fierce. Prices for goods actually came down greatly. The more goods that were produced the cheaper the cost for goods became.

4. Ease of Movement

The means of transportation changed enormously. It became cheaper, faster and very comfortable. Easier travel opened up new areas to many people.

Cons of Industrial Revolution

Not everyone would agree that the industrial revolution was a period of positives. As a matter of fact, some people would say that the industrial revolution was actually the down fall of society and not the upswing in things.

1. Bad Work Conditions

The industrial revolution was built on the backs of children. Children could be packed into factories easier because of their small size. They were used in factories as young as 7 years old. The wages were low and the workers including children were more indentured slave than employee. In the meat packing industries in Chicago, for example, many people died because of the filthy conditions.

Of course today the conditions in factories are closely monitored for safety and children are not permitted to work in factories but clearly one of the cons of the revolution is the thousands of children that were injured working in factories and that lost their childhood to help build the industrial revolution.
2. The Loss of Craftsmanship

Before the industrial revolution people made their own goods or purchased from local artisans what they could not make on their own because these goods were not mass produced they were of higher quality. People took pride in the items that they crafted. Many items were “one of a kind” with minimal imperfections that made it stand out from other like items.

3. Less Healthy Lifestyle

Before the industrial revolution people did not live in cramped spaces in the city. They lived in wide open spaces. They got up every day and did physical labor for the betterment of their families. They were able to build what they needed and grow what they ate. It was a much healthier lifestyle.

4. Environmental Factors

The industrial revolution has certainly taken its toll on the environment. The urban sprawl. The air pollution that factories produce and the stress that people put on the environment has really effected how we have to learn to live on the planet.


  1. Which two “pros” of the Industrial Revolution do you think are most important? Explain.

  1. Which two “cons” of the Industrial Revolution do you think are most important? Explain.

  1. Short Answer: do you think that the Industrial Revolution was mostly a good thing or mostly a bad thing? Take a stance and defend your answer.

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