Q. 54.2( 5 Votes )

How were the lives of different classes of British women affected by the industrial revolution?

Answer :

The transition to new manufacturing processes with an effect on both the industry and economy in Britain between the 1780s and the 1850s is known as industrial revolution. It marks a major turning point in history as all aspects of society was influenced in some way. So, it becomes evident that women and children who make up more than half of society faced numerous changes in their lifestyles. Women belonging to the noble classes did not face a lot of upheaval in their lives as they were seldom engaged in any manual labour. It was the middle-class women and women in rural areas who faced the major changes in their lifestyles due to the industrial revolution. The following points give a brief picture of the effects of the Industrial Revolution on the urban middle class and rural women.


• Historically, women in rural areas were actively involved in farm work and often produced most of the things needed by their families like clothes, etc. in the home itself. With industrialisation, the home stopped being a central unit of production and women lost much of their economic importance leading to a lowering in their social standards with respect to men.


• Women of lower economic classes in urban areas were forced to take up work in factories to supplement the meager incomes of their male counterparts as industrialisation led to a higher standard of living and a rapid rise in the cost of living.


• But working conditions in factories were harsh and often led health problems in women.


• Women were preferred by employers for employment in factories and textile industries as they were less agitated with the poor working conditions and also would work for lower wages than men.


The industrial revolution did indeed pave the way for women’s emancipation through increased financial independence and higher self-esteem gained from having a salary. But the drawbacks in the form of lowering of health, deplorable working and living conditions hampered their social and economic development.


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