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The Second Industrial Revolution (1840-1900)


Researchers and the students of world history have often mentioned the thing that Industrial revolution helps to develop new technologies. This affects the social, political, work and economical life of people. After the revolution the world witnessed severe exploitation of children and women, and various factors such as, poverty, family problems, hunger and diseases promoted child labor.

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Capitalist principles and programs promote child labor in huge factories through promising work for parents who could provide their children to work for them. The all new technologies help to develop the factory system and as a result of this working class people especially women and children got new jobs. Another significant fact is that children could be paid a lower wage and they can be made to work long hours without rest. Working class people suffer with hunger and deceases because they have no money for food and therefore the working class parents send their children to work in huge factories, mills and even to dangerous mines. These children work hard at all working place. They could be easily tricked with the payment methods as well. The factory owners and miners offer a meager amount as salary to these kids. The factory owners and mill owners increased productivity of their business and profit through this. The web article entitled Centuries of Child Labor: European Experiences from the Seventeenth to the Twentieth Century|Book Reviews remarks that; “In addition, children were cheap labor that allowed factory owners and miners to reap high profits. And despite being paid much less than adults, the money children brought home to their families made an essential contribution to the families’ survival” (Tuttle, 2005, para.3). Industrial revolution has provided immense opportunities for adults and has made them productive. Implementation of laissez faire methods in factory field has promoted factory system and child labor. The business owners are very easily handled and they lead the child laborers’ who understood every aspect of machinery and accepted all new methods and technologies without resistance.

Historians have often documented that a large number of Royal Commissions were formed by the House of Commons and the House of Lords with the purpose of investigating labor conditions of children in factories and other industries. It is crystal clear that these investigations have provided many positive changes in various fields such as, working hours, health and medical protection and wages. Oz Frankel states that; “the labor of royal commissions is examined here in tandem with the investigative work of the inspectorates that supervised the implementation of new policies and laws regarding factories, mines, and workhouses” (2006, p.141).

These investigations have worked as a link between the working people and the factory owners. As a result of this, government and local authority have implemented new welfare programs for women and children. It paved the way for policy making and execution for working people.

After effects of various investigations made by Royal commissions, one can see that some drastic changes and labor reforms occurred in the field of factory system. Comfortable working hours, convincing work environment and other welfare programs helped the people who worked in the industries, mills and mines etc. The factory owners are given suitable payment and accommodation facilities. The factory owners built houses for their workers. The workers’ houses were built near the factory, so they could walk to work. Before the industrial revolution, workers’ working time varied between 11and 14 hours per day. After the industrial revolution these working time reduced to 10 to 11 hours. And child labor’s workday varied to 8 hours.

The journal article Industrial Revolution and Child Labor comments that; “the Children between 9 and 18 years of age were not allowed to work at night and not for more than twelve years in the day” (Industrial revolution and child labor, n.d., para.2).

The new technological inventions were very helpful to laborers and they properly used these machines. The steam machines, spinning machines and other machines reduced laborer’s workload. Formation of labor unions and other organizations promoted number of welfare programs. The second industrial revolution has also changed old business technologies and methods. During that time new materials and machines such as chemical, electrical, petroleum and steel industries were introduced. And it also included airplane, automobiles, telephones, refrigeration etc. These technologies changed the work environment into a modern world. The Second World War utterly changed peoples’ lives and made new business opportunities for them. The online article entitled the new rules for individuals, companies, and nations states that;” The second industrial revolution created a sharp discontinuity in economic affairs and opened up opportunities to do things never done before” (Thurow, 1999, para.11).

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To conclude, first and second industrial revolutions have contributed drastic changes to the modern world. Child labor and labor systems paved the way for labor exploitations in many European countries. After effects of various commissions and labor committees, one can see the positive changes and labor reforms in the field of child labor.


Frankel, O. Z. (2006). Social investigations and print culture in nineteenth century Britain and the United states: Scenes of commission. State of Inquiry. p.141. Web.

Industrial revolution and child labor. (n.d.). Economy Watch. 2010. Web.

Thurow, L. C. (1999). Building wealth: The new rules for individuals, companies, and nations. Atlantic. Web.

Tuttle, C. (2005). Centuries of child labor: European experiences from the seventeenth to the twentieth century. Eh.Net. Web.

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