The Second Industrial Revolution had unfolded from 1870 to 1914. It was characterized by an unprecedented pace of urbanization and increases in production volumes, and a large number of path-breaking inventions was the primary factor that triggered the progress. The present case study is devoted to the review and analysis of some technologies that emerged at the end of the 19th century, their roles in social and economic development, and implications, both favorable and unfavorable.
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The list of scientific discoveries that had occurred during the Second Industrial Revolution was extensive. According to the Scientific American magazine, it included owe’s sewing machine, making seams “as rapid as nine tailors;” a new steering apparatus that significantly facilitated ship control; and a boat propelled by electromagnetic power (Porter, 2009, para. 43). Along with this, a plethora of improvements to existing technologies and methodologies were performed. For instance, they started to apply galvanic processes to cast iron and advanced the structure of the fire engine (Porter, 2009).
Among the most significant improvements were the utilization of novel materials in urban and building design, for example, the use of cast-iron plates for roofing, and plates that are expected to last ten times as granite for paving the streets (Porter, 2009). Overall, it is clear that these inventions were meant to facilitate labor while also increasing work performance and efficacy, and accelerate production. The new materials were meant to increase endurance and reduce expenses. Overall, it was an initial step in the process of automation and attempts to enhance production cost efficiency, which were crucial to foster industrial development.
The changes in a range of power sources were probably the most remarkable achievement of that time as they induced transformations in multiple spheres of life. During the 1890’s, the electric generator was invented, and it consequently replaced commonly used steam engines. Additionally, Engelman (n.d.) observes that the combustion engine was created and led to the development of first auto-vehicles and airplanes. As for electricity, its influence was pervasive: it entered the households and became the primary source of power for refrigerators and washing machines and allowed the invention of innovative communication technologies, such as the telegraph.
Quick information exchange across prolonged distances was possible for the first time after this invention (Porter, 2009). Not only did the telegraph allow easier interpersonal communication between people living in different cities but also the strengthening of business ties. Manufacturers, vendors, and other actors in the market started to implement this technology for expanding their businesses and stimulating sales. The enhancement in advertising techniques and railroad connectivity also assisted them in the achievement of these goals.
Overall, the Second Industrial Revolution was a continuation of the first one. Nevertheless, it made a more significant impact on the way of life, as well as the overall manner of technological advancement. Technological and knowledge leadership became the main force driving business competition. What is more important, after the emergence of new inventions and the development of new products, the standard of living improved substantially while production costs decreased.
However, the industrial line work was still associated with many risks and, compared to business owners, simple workers did not have enough opportunities to capture the advantages offered by technologic development and had to work long hours for small wages in unfavorable working conditions. At the same time, it is clear that the described innovations promoted the rise in demand for skilled and well-paid personnel. Thus, the Second Industrial Revolution can be regarded as an initial step in the development of individuals’ economic independence.
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Engelman, R. (n.d.). The Second Industrial Revolution, 1870-1914. Web.
Porter, R. (2009). Project Gutenberg’s Scientific American magazine, vol. 2, issue 1. Web.