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Assess the Socio-Political Consequences of the Process of Industrialization in Europe
In history, many turning points in various regions of the world that affect the way of life in the world today. These turning points were very elemental because they set the stage for the continuities and the changes over time in different areas and aspects of the world. In Europe, the Industrial Revolution was a process through which the region faced rapid industrialization, which had different impacts to the European society (Bade, 2003). The industrial revolution transformed the whole of Europe despite other aspects staying the same. During the industrial revolution, Europe changed in various aspects including social, political and economic. This paper will analyze the social and political effects of the industrialization process to the European Society.
Social impacts of the process of industrialization in Europe included the variations in and reduction in human labor influenced by the emergent production techniques, the variations in the role of women in the European society and the growth of cities.
Variations in Human Labor
Before the process of industrialization, Europe was an agrarian society. As such, individuals worked in the lands to earn a living. Most of the Europeans were farmers and they lived and worked in the country (Bade, 2003). However, with the emergence of the process of industrialization, the production processes changed and became automated. That is, it required less human labor. The amalgamation of inventions during that period influenced the automation of the production process in Europe.
For instance, the spinning jenny facilitated the production of more cotton cloth, the steam engines increased productivity, and the steam power was used in the power looms that became significant technologies during the industrialization process. However, despite the changes in the production process, human labor was still required in some areas such as in the factories alongside the invented machines. However, the reduction in human labor influenced the emergence of other social problems such as criminal activities, housing problems, and insecurity because most of the individuals lost their jobs.
Role of Women
The role of women was also another significant aspect of the process of industrialization in Europe. Prior to the industrialization process, the women primarily stayed at their homes. Their responsibility was the housework, taking care of the children and tending to their husbands. That is; the place of women in the society was in the houses and especially being caring wives and mothers. However, with the process of industrialization emerging in Europe, the role of women changed the society considerably. Women began working outside their homes.
The initial reason, the women started working in other places such as the factories, was that the farms were no longer the main source of income or employment in the region. Despite the fact that the men started displacing most of the women in the factories as the process of industrialization went on, some of the women still held their jobs (Bade, 2003). As such, women had more time to perform their duties. Some of the women took on jobs such as secretaries, sales personnel, nursing, and teaching. The change in the role of women, despite being beneficial to them and the society as well, changed the structure and way of life of the society as the suffrage movement was developing. There was an emergence of the issues of discrimination against the women especially in terms of payment compared to the men because the society still considered the women as inferior individuals in the society.
Urbanization is one of the notable differences and impacts of the process of industrialization in Europe. Urbanization is involved individuals are migrating to the cities from the country and the farms. Prior to the industrialization process and urbanization, most individuals resided in the country because they were peasants. With the beginning of the industrialization process, individuals began moving into the cities and acquiring jobs in the factories, which increased the urbanization. Moreover, there was an increase in the population because of the increase in productivity, which made available surplus food.
However, the continuity of individuals moving into the cities increased the population of the cities rapidly. With time, the cities could not support the population. First, many people were employed in the factories and job opportunities gradually started becoming scarce. As such, the issue of unemployment emerged in the cities, which fueled the consequence of the industrialization. People began looking for alternative methods of earning income ton support themselves in the city life. As such, there was an increase in the crime rates in the cities (Bade, 2003). Some people saw that venturing into criminal activities would be easier for them to survive in the cities. Prostitution emerged in the cities as well because of urbanization. With many people moving into the cities, there was pressure on the available space. That is; there was an emergence of the housing problem, which led to the problem of individuals living in the streets. Provision of social services in the cities like schools, recreation facilities, health services, security, and water among others became challenging because of the increasing population (Schwartz, 2005).
The process of the industrial revolution came with various political consequences including laws governing child labor in the society, equal distribution of wealth, trade unions, social reform movements and reformation of bills governing the society as well (Schwartz, 2005).
Child labor laws
With the increasing population in the urban regions and the emergence of the problem of housing, there were instances of street children in the cities. Some of these children were taken by wealthier individuals to work in their homes or shop owners. Some of them also worked in then factories. Their employees mistreated most of these children because they were helpless and desperate. As such, there was the establishment of child labor laws to take care if the welfare of the children and end child abuse in the society.
Equal distribution of wealth
The European Society had an imbalanced distribution of wealth among the working individuals and the people in positions. That is; the highest individuals on a given hierarchy of leadership had more wealth than others. Moreover, most of the men had more wealth than the women, which was attributed to the payment that they were receiving. Therefore, there was an emergence of reformers urging the equal distribution of wealth among all the individuals in the society.
Social reform movements
Under the new system brought by the process of industrialization in Europe, the workers became completely dependent on the employers. As such, the employers had the liberty to alter the payment method or delay the payment of the workers at any time they deemed fit. With such cases in the society, there was the emergence of social reform movements against such acts. These social reform movements called for fair treatment of individuals in all the social institutions without bias, prejudice or discrimination.
The process of industrialization in Europe inspired the working class. Most of the rulers did not fail to acknowledge it. Liberal leadership in Europe took up the course of men who could work. Individuals such as Robert Peel and Charles Grey educate the individuals of the working class concerning their real strength (Schwartz, 2005). These individuals invested in the people with political consciousness and worked towards making them earnest concerning their rights.
Trade unions were other political movements with immense contribution to the European society. They were a consequence of the process of industrialization in Europe. With the growth of cities and the increase in productivity in Europe during that time, there was a rapid growth in the trading activities. Additionally, there was the emergence of abuse for the cheap labor, especially the helpless children on the streets or the homeless individuals. As such, trade unions emerged across Europe. These trade unions articulate the grievances of the people. They took care of the welfare of the employees in various sectors and made sure that there was equal payment of individuals and eliminated discrimination against any kind in the workplaces.
During the process of industrial, the whole continent of Europe changed socially and politically. During that period, significant changes in the social aspect included the variations in human labor influenced by the automation of the production process, urbanization and the changes in the role of women. These changes affected the social way of life in various ways such as an increase in crime and prostitution in the urban areas, the housing problem and the pressure on the social amenities. The inventions during that time influenced these changes. Other aspects, that influenced the changes in the European society, include a further comprehension of equality and an avenue to ensure that the industrialization process affected the entire of Europe.
The political consequences that emerged as a result of the industrialization in the European society were mainly to protect the rights of individuals. There was a period of rapid reforms of the Acts and laws that governed the region. The social reforms also sought to protect the rights of individuals in various aspects. The formation of trade unions was essential because it promoted fairness and equality at the workplaces (Schwartz, 2005). Political consequences of the industrialization process in Europe was geared towards protecting the individuals at all costs and ensuring that there was maximum adherence to the reformed laws of the country by all the individuals in positions.
Many of these changes influenced the word today as well. Along with the changes of the industrial process and the consequences faced during that time, some features of the European society before the industrialization remained the same. Some beliefs, occupations, and habits did not change, which affected the evolution of the industrialization process and defined the extent of the consequences to the society. Overall, the process of industrialization in Europe changed the course of the region for years while maintaining some of the traditions. Moreover, the process had consequences to the society, which affected the ways of life of individuals in various ways. Industrialization in Europe was a period of many activities, which had consequences to the socio-political elements of the society.
Bade, K. J. (2003). Migration in European history. Malden, MA: Blackwell Pub.
Schwartz, H. M. (2005). States versus markets: History, geography, and the development of the international political economy (2nd ed.). New York: St. Martin's Press.
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