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Industrial Revolution - Triumph or Disaster? Essay Example

3 pages
613 words
Vanderbilt University
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The industrial revolution marked a period when predominantly agrarian rural societies in America and Europe became urban and industrial. This period was between the 18th and 19th centuries. Prior to this period, which is around 1700s, manufacturing of goods took place at peoples' homes by use of hand tools (Hudson, 2014). Industrial revolution marked a shift from such hand tools to engine powered mechanization in production and a shift from home to factory manufacturing. It was this shift and reorganization of production that was termed industrial revolution. Over the years, the industrial revolution has become a hotly debated topic as to whether it let to positive or negative impacts; an agreement can be reached between both sides if its impacts can be interpreted in phases of time.

The debate on the positive and negative impacts that lands at the conclusion as to whether industrial revolution was a triumph or disaster often sparks endless arguments from both sides. On the positive side, the proponents argue that industrial revolution was a major force of change that led to the western civilization and brought about, among other benefits, the growth of cities, improved living standards, increased productivity and economic expansion. On the other hand, those opposing argue that industrial revolution was the beginning of evils such as social segregation, increase in crime, poor living standards (especially in slams) and exploding population growth (Hartwell, 2017). For either side, their arguments are factual and valid.

However, the positive and negative impacts of industrial separation can be separate when the term industrial revolution' is placed in a historical interpretation. According to Griffin (2013), the industrial revolution has been interpreted as beneficial or detrimental in various historical periods that have seen changes in the way the term is interpreted. Between 1760 and 1844, the industrial revolution was interpreted to mean a transformative role played by technology in reforming the whole society, from production to way of life. After the 1840s, the interpretation of industrial revolution changed. It was during this period when the transformation of the society had taken place, and the trade-offs were emerging. People were being displaced leading them into slams. Rich capitalists were emerging and living in highly developed areas while the laborers were being segregated into areas with poor living conditions. Crime activities were emerging from the slams (Griffin, 2013). It was during this period that industrial revolution's earlier interpretation changed from transformative into a disastrous event. Scholars began interpreting industrial revolution according to its resulting negative influences rather than the earlier positive ones.

Overall, the debate on the influences of the industrial revolution and the possibility of concluding industrial revolution as being a triumph of disastrous is a complex one that has even seen the debaters from both sides intersecting in the middle where they seem to agree. For example, whereas the proponents of industrial revolution insist that it was a triumph, they acknowledge negative impacts of the process such as increased modern crime, uncontrolled population growth and effects of climate change. Similarly, those who view industrial revolution as a disastrous event agree that most of the privileges enjoyed today such as high efficient productivity would not have been enjoyed were it not for expansion in production technologies as a result of the industrial revolution. Essentially, there is an agreement between the two sides of the debate on the positive impacts of the industrial revolution that have stood the test of time and continue to benefit human beings.



Griffin, E. (2013). The industrial revolution: interpretations from 1830 to the present. School of History, UEA, Norwich. NR2 3HF Palgrave. Retrieved February.

Hartwell, R. M. (2017). The Industrial Revolution and economic growth (Vol. 4). Taylor & Francis.

Hudson, P. (2014). The industrial revolution. Bloomsbury Publishing.


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