Industrial Revolution: An Overview
Towards the end of the middle-ages, Feudalism as an economic system had started to decline. This decline was further increased by the Renaissance and other developments. The changing life had created a demand for many types of goods which were previously considered as luxury goods. The methods of production had undergone a massive change and improvement. There was a revolution in the techniques and organization of the production system. This new type of economy was called an Industrial Economy. A mechanized factory system was created that produced goods on a mass scale and at a rapidly diminishing cost of production. This new system came from the second half of the 18th century in Europe.
Economic life, under Feudalism, was Static, as production was done for local consumption and market was limited. However, the new system of society- Capitalism- was moved by the aim of profit.
Under Capitalism, the means of production were owned by private hands, with the objective of making more and more profits. The workers, under this system, own nothing but their labor, which is employed for a fixed wage. The wealth of the capitalist is used to invest in the production system, to make greater profits. Goods, under capitalism, are produced for sale in the market.
Under Feudalism, societies were divided into classes- Lords and Serfs, of which some were privileged while others were exploited. A man’s life was determined at the time of his birth, depending on the class into which he was born.
The political system of the time were also determined by the prevailing social and economic system. Most of the population was excluded from having any share in the governance of the country. Many Kings ruled in the name of Divine Rights. Boundaries of the states were irrational. There were many kinds of states- Empires, feudal estates and city-states. Territories within a state were not necessarily contiguous. Similarly, territories inhabited by a homogeneous people were divided into a number of states, some under the local rulers, some under church and some as part of an empire.
People had blind faith in the Church and its dogmas and rituals.
The Middle Class
Middle classes emerged during the later middle ages, and played an important role in bringing Renaissance in Europe. During this time, middle classes were obstructed by the outdated political system based on privilege.
With the industrial revolution, the strength of the middle class increased, and the older system moved towards its demise. The spread of the industrial revolution in many countries was slow because of the backward political system. Another important class that emerged after the industrial revolution was the working class, or the industrial workers.
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