Industrial Revolution: Cultural and Construction History Essay

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Industrial Revolution: Cultural and Construction History (1750 to 1900)

Cultural Environment

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During the Industrial Revolution machines changed the way people lived and their ways of manufacturing. The advent of steam power and its associated machinery in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries spurred significant changes in farming, manufacturing, mining, and transport. Beginning in England, these developments started a process of using vast natural resources to power economic change, for example in such areas as the manufacture of cloth and in the use of locomotive engines in transportation (Schivelbusch). Europe's socioeconomic and cultural conditions were transformed (More). Technology introduced mechanised production systems that replaced manual labour. One of the principle ways in which the Industrial Revolution altered these different arenas of life was by making it more economically feasible, through the usage of machines and the technologies that enabled them, to utilize resources that had previously been available, yet were deemed too expensive to use on a regular basis. Other developments during this time period, such as the founding of formulas that resulted in new, improved materials for construction such as steel, plate glass, and cast iron, were directly responsible for many advances throughout different industries. The use of steam and water power created the train and the steamship, which revolutionised the market and the transportation of goods (Lorenzen). Factories altered the landscape. The military industrial machine also developed new technologies for war. These developments were influential in producing more efficacious techniques of management. Innovations in methods of communication, particularly towards the end of this time period, also aided in the burgeoning change that gripped the world during this pivotal era

Essay on Industrial Revolution: Cultural and Construction History (1750 Assignment

In analysing why the Industrial Revolution occurred, some commentators think that the British made advancements because its entrepreneurs held to a belief in the work ethic, the use of technology, and the importance of progress. Information could also be exchanged rapidly in England due to its network of informal philosophical societies. Furthermore, magazines and periodicals describing technology began in the early 1800s. Additionally, the middle class of industrialists and businessmen were beginning to have more power than the land-owning nobles (Hudson 138 -- 44).

1.2 Relationship to Previous Period

Once machinery had been introduced, tradition production systems vanished. Larger middle and artisan classes meant political and sociological changes. The move from human- and animal-based technology to the use of machines required a number of scientific advances and more control than previously was asserted on national boundaries. Political transformations occurred as well, as people demanded more autonomy and less overt repression from formal government. The revolution that occurred in the U.S. was soon echoed by an even more important one in France a decade later, signalling an end to feudalism and a (slow) global adherence to the more modern form of government, democracy (Smith). Many of these political and social ideologies were directly related to the Enlightenment, and the notion of man overcoming previous limitations to his authority and establishing new precedents and goals. The spirit of innovation provided by the Scientific Revolution allowed for the facilitation of many of these ideas, which manifested themselves in varying forms of modernization and improvements in daily life. For instance, updates in medical technology and health care practices, fuelled by the construction of sturdier, safer places of work and dwelling, resulted in childhood mortality decreasing, creating a larger workforce. Eventually, child labor laws would be implemented to accommodate the social changes that such a workforce provided. Health and hygiene improved. Food production became more efficient, eliminating waste and the threat of famine. A switch from rural to urban life suggested new needs. The refinement of the steam engine made transportation and travel easier, quicker, and accessible to more people. This change from the previous period allowed for a continuous cycle of improvement and a rise in the general standard of living for most Europeans (Mumford).

1.3 Contribution to Western Civilisation

The modern world was born with the Industrial Revolution. It created the conditions and technologies for global expansion, exploration, colonisation, capitalism, and European economic hegemony. Social movements such as Marxism were created in response to capitalism. Unique artistic trends were also produced. The modern conception of the individual and of human rights developed out of the Industrial Revolution. Contemporary regards of labor were also largely produced by the Industrial Revolution, particularly due to its creation of the factory system -- most of which typified Marxist conceptions of the haves and have-nots. The social ramifications of this era would also have lasting effects on contemporary society. Labor reform laws brought about by the factory system benefitted women and children -- the latter of whom were most adversely affected by it (Gaskell 202), and helped to regulate aspects of the nuclear family to eventually encompass the roles of mother, father, and children, that exist today. Women, in particular, benefitted from the Industrial Revolution by earning some of their first places of employment outside of the home and agricultural endeavors in the factory system (Burnette).

It is also important to realize the effects of this epoch on national demographics, particularly during some of the major waves of immigration from Europe to America, which were of course enabled by the need for the latter country to hire relatively inexpensive workers to provide labor for railroad and factory industries. Transportation was enabled by developments in steam powered ships. The face of what is the United States today largely stems from the immigration that this revolution provided -- which included more than 33 million people entering the country from 1820-1920 (Kim 3). The contributions of this era have been so enormous that contemporary life, with all its technologies, comforts, stresses, political debates, and tragedies, would be inconceivable without it. The overall effects of this epoch, however, are readily apparent. Quality of life improved, and the trend towards utilizing technology to result in longer living and more benign conditions for doing so, which is still practiced to this day, was begun in earnest. Such a trend may have actually begun in earlier times, but the Industrial Revolution symbolized a period of rapid ascent and progress during a relatively brief amount of time that begat many standards of modern life.

2. Scientific Environment

The Industrial Revolution progressed naturally out of the Scientific Revolution. Science provided the tools and technological developments that allowed for certain tasks to be conducted on a larger scale, such as agriculture. The Industrial Revolution was based on applied scientific achievements, and its social implications were also vast. For example, industries such as textiles, milling, and mining were mechanized using applied knowledge of machinery.

One of the more recognizable names from the Industrial Revolution is Hans Christian Orsted (1777 -- 1851). In his Philosophisk Repertorium he stated, "in order to achieve completeness in our knowledge of nature, we must start from two extremes, from experience and from the intellect itself. . . . When the empiricist in his regression towards general laws of nature meets the metaphysician in his progression, science will reach its perfection." Orsted's view represents a fusion of scientific rationalism and empiricism, a scientist's dream. His research on electromagnetism led him to the realization that electricity is propagated by fluctuation. His discovery linking electricity and magnetism sent shockwaves through the physics community, leading to a large upsurge of research into electrodynamics.

Others made significant contributions at this time. William Whewell (1794 -- 1866) was a disciple of Bacon. He developed the hypothetico-deductive method of scientific logic, which attempted to unite ideas with facts. He also coined the term "scientist" (William Whewell -Encyclopedia Britannica). Another empirical philosopher, John Stuart Mill (1806 -- 1873), developed utilitarianism into a moral doctrine. Charles Sanders Peirce (1839 -- 1941) helped to found pragmatism and statistics. He also invented the concepts of blind and controlled randomized experiments, now a staple of epidemiology (Management). In "How to Make Our Ideas Clear" (1878), Peirce outlined a method to test the truth of knowledge through logical pragmatism, which fuses induction and deduction rather than using them in competition. Secondly, Peirce proposes a scheme for testing hypotheses that still holds sway, and the abductive, deductive, and inductive inference modes of reasoning (286 -- 302).

It is also highly important to realize that in some ways, the Industrial Revolution was a product of the Enlightenment. This crucial time period spanned approximately the duration of the 18th century, although numerous philosophical underpinnings that powered this movement were conceived during the 17th century. The Enlightenment, which initiated in Europe and eventually crossed the Atlantic to play a significant part in the development of the United States and the shapers of the New World, emphasized the ability and triumphs of man vs. those of God -- which was traditionally credited for any benign behaviour or achievements.

Despite the fact that the Enlightenment was primarily a cultural movement in which religion was de-emphasized (if not outright marginalized), it certainly provided the atmosphere for many of the scientific, economic, political, and social innovations that characterized the majority of the Industrial Revolution -- particularly… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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