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Socialism - Industrial Revolution And The Rise Of Socialism

changes industrialization factory unregulated

As a political ideology, socialism arose largely in response to the economic and social consequences of the Industrial Revolution. There is an abundance of literature that attests to the dramatic way in which the industrialization of Europe affected the daily lives of individuals, particularly the working classes. The reformist trend in British politics during the 1830s brought some of these harsh realities to the public's attention. In 1832, for example, a parliamentary investigation into the conditions in the textile factories—later known as the Sadler Committee's Report—revealed the appalling toll on human life that had resulted from unregulated industrial growth. And, even if we discount certain embellishments or exaggerations, these accounts of the general working conditions in the factories were nonetheless all too illustrative of a social climate in which practices of the most callous inhumanity were accepted as a natural order of events and, most important, were at first not thought to be the general public's concern.

It deserves mention here that, in addition to the horrors wrought by an unregulated factory system, workers were also subjected to the changes brought on by the machine age. The introduction of new technologies in the workplace invariably meant the displacement of laborers. No less important was the fact that many of the changes wrought by rapid technological advances and the consequent restructuring of the workplace (e.g., the factory system) had an alienating effect on the worker. To the minds of some, however, these evils of industrialization were not inevitable outcomes. Such was the case with the so-called Utopian socialists who emerged in England and on the Continent around this time.

Socialism - Utopian Socialists: Owen, Saint-simon, Fourier [next]

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