The Industrial Revolution

Social costs and social change

Authored by: Emma Griffin

Routledge Handbook of the History of Sustainability

Print publication date:  October  2017
Online publication date:  October  2017

Print ISBN: 9781138685796
eBook ISBN: 9781315543017
Adobe ISBN:


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Most historians agree that the Industrial Revolution was a defining moment in British history, but what were the social consequences of this landmark historical event? What benefits – if any – did industrialisation and mechanisation bring to the nameless men, women and children who worked in the factories and made it all happen? These are questions charged with political overtones, and they have polarised historians who have inevitably interpreted the disappearance of traditional society and the advent of capitalism in very different ways. In this chapter, we shall consider these debates and ask what happened to both working people’s incomes and their quality of life when Britain transitioned from an agrarian to an industrial economy.

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