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The second industrial revolution

The First Industrial Revolution, as called in the narrower sense the revolution of coal and iron, started in Britain in the manufacture of textiles in the middle of seventeenth century. It implied the gradual extension of the use of machines, the employment of men, women, and children in factories, a fairly steady change from a population mainly of agriculture workers to a population mainly engaged in making things in factories and distributing them when they were made. By the mid nineteenth-century, Britain became the world’s industrial leader–the “workshop of the world.”

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After the age of coal and iron (the first industrial revolution), there came the following age of steel and electricity, of oil and chemicals. The second industrial revolution began around the last decade of the nineteenth century. It was far more deeply scientific, far less depended on the “inventions” of “practical” men with little if any basic scientific training. It was also far quicker in its impact, far more prodigious in its results and far more revolutionary in its effects on people’s lives and outlook. The second industrial revolution was a new thing in human experience and it went on corresponded with the economic, social and political consequences it produced.

Economical issues on Productivity and technology The second industrial revolution witnessed the growth in some industries of huge economic of scale and throughput and was a new kind of industrialization, a “revolution” affected in large part by the partnership of science and technology. New material, new sources of power, and the application of scientific knowledge to industry increased rapidly the productivity. For example, steel was almost a semiprecious material with a world production of eighty thousand tons, but by the year 1900 the production had reached 28 million tons.1

Electricity was a major new form of energy that proved to be of great value since it could be easily converted into other forms of energy, such as heat, lights, and motion, and moved relatively effortlessly through space by means of transmitting wires. In the 1870s, the first commercially practical generators of electrical current were developed. By 1881, Britain had its first public power station. By 1910, hydroelectric power stations and coal-fired steam-generating plants enabled entire districts to be tied into a single power distribution system that provided a common source of power for homes, shops, and industrial enterprises.

Agriculture was also influenced by the new chemical and physiological knowledge. New methods of food preservation made possible bulk conservation of foodstuffs and the provision of cheap and stable supplies to the growing world population. Social Except the consequences on the productivity and the whole pattern of everyday life, the second industrial revolution also brought out the social issues.

Working class Working class played an important role during the first industrial revolution, and its changes came out naturally in the late 19th through the second industrial revolution. The number of working class grew up tremendously. In 1880 electricity was commercially employed only in telegraphy, and in 1882 the total number of persons employed in the industry was too small to be separately enumerated.

In 1895 there were 15,000 people engaged in the industry, and the number at the present time is estimated at 50,000. . .  The working class was being gathered into big factories and the factories concentrated in industrial towns and urban areas. In Germany the great Krupps steel undertaking, which had employed only 122 men in 1846, had 16,000 on its pay-roll in 1872 and by 1913 was employing a total of almost 70,000.4


In the years between 1870 and 1914, there was an ever more marked conflict between the bourgeois class and working class since the industrial factors are involved. The conditions of the workers were not good. As the numbers of the workers in the big cities grew, the strength of them is getting stronger to request better working and living condition. In fact, the huge amount of working class had to have a huge demand of food and other living material, which gave great pressures on agriculture that had to have enough supply to meet the demand. This means, the large scale import of cheap foodstuffs and living materials from overseas accelerated the improvement in the development of transportation and refrigerator.

The legal limitation of the hours of labor became one of the most important demands in man movement for the betterment of the conditions of the working class: it had been a major item, for instance, in the revolution of the French workers in 1848 and in the growing international working-class movement and strikes of the 1880s. Furthermore, the definition of Communism was introduced by Marx and Engels, which gave the idea of the welfare of the working class first in France in 1871. And it didn’t take so long time for people to witness the birth of a communist country.

Urbanization as another important consequences of the second industrial revolution The scientific, technological and industrial changes not only made the world come closer, but also turned the towns and cities bigger and urbanized. With the big amount of workers coming to cities and more emigrations, the population of Europe rose by no less than one hundred million between 1870 and 1900. In one hand, traditional small scale-family businesses and factories were in many cases too narrowly based to withstand and the times of depression caused by the crisis of over-production, nor had they always means to finance the installation of new, more complicated and more expensive machinery.

Therefore, they were soon replaced by large factories since they were absolutely weak facing the different product markets. As a result, the family workers or, in an agricultural sense, the farmers became the labors in the big factories. On the other hand, the new industrial techniques “necessitated the creation of large-scale undertakings and the concentration of the population in vast urban agglomerations.” As more and more big factories settled and more consumption of the amount of labor force, by the end of 19th, the cities rapidly grew bigger and the emergence of the great metropolitan centers was world-wild.


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