Following the end of Civil War in America, industrialization occurred at a high rate and led to several changes to the country and its people in positive and negative ways. These changes occurred between the years 1865 to 1920 where there was increased mass production due to technological innovation that arose (Stanfors, Maria, and Frances Goldscheider, p.173). This essay explores the problems that were experienced in America during industrialization.
The three major aspects which were impacted by the industrialization in America were the society, economy and politics. The social aspects of Americans changed to the capitalism where most of the profits reaped from industrialization was not distributed but shared among factory owners and investors. Poor working conditions also led to increased protests and rebellion which led to different social movements. In terms of the economy, the per capita rose at a steady rate for the first time in history, being a positive change (Prados De La Escosura, p.342). The total productivity factors also increased during this period because most of the technological innovations were used for industrial production processes in weaponry, agriculture and many other sectors. Industrialization also had effects on the political system of America due to high rates of corruption. In this case, the politicians, who had an upper hand and a say in the society had a lot of unfairly acquired money and wealth. The politicians were also the majority of the owners of the developing industries and companies. Moreover, the established business people would bribe the politicians so that they would be given land grants in exchange for cash, leading to massive scandals (Warf and Sheridan, p.149).
Negatively affected groups
However, it is worth noting that although industrialization in America had brought about positive changes, not all groups of people were able to reap benefits from these changes. For instance, the most discriminated groups were the women, immigrants (Africans, Italians, Chinese, Germans) and the poor. The Africans were viewed to be inferior and were used as strikebreakers and worked in American plantations under poor conditions and substandard wages (Hawkes and Minna, p.810). The Italians were viewed to be unskilled and were denied from joining any trade unions since they were viewed as foreigners. The Italians and Irish would thus work so hard for poor pay because they were termed as being inferior than the Northern and Western Europeans. Therefore, industrialization was like a virtual experience for most marginalized groups, despite the fact there were increased wealth among the superior class of people (Catron, Peter, p.354). For instance, majority of people living in rural areas were displaced from their pieces of land to give room for construction of factories and plantations, where many people were left homeless.
The other group of concern negatively affected by industrialization was the women. During the industrialization, women were denied the opportunity to work in factories, plantations and other growing economic sectors (Katz and Robert, p. 55). For instance, during this time, for every six paid workers in the White’s plantations, only one was a woman. The only white collar occupations that were provided for a few women were just two; office work and retail selling. In order to qualify for either of the two positions, the women were supposed to be English speaking. This means that the women from immigrant groups which were non-English speaking were blocked from these job opportunities. The African-American women were mostly sent to work outside their homes, because they were considered to have very bad economic potentials. Most women who worked outside the homes were faced with lack of acceptance by their family members because they were not supposed to be actual wage earners in a family. This brought about a belief and tradition that they were supposed to be paid a lesser wage than the men (Sachs, Carolyn, p.235) During the same time, the death rate of wage-earning women was twice that of the non-working women. This is because they were subjected to long working hours, poor wages, accompanying household chores and poor working conditions. In other cases, the wage-earning women were sexually exploited at their places if work.
Another group negatively affected by industrialization were the children who were involved in child labor during industrialization. Most parents depended on their children for help in the farms and for wages from employment in the factories (Goldin and Kenneth, p.747). However, the children were paid half the wage that adults were paid, meaning that they worked so much for less pay (Nardinelli, Clark, p.743). This means that children working in factories and plantations were not able to attend school, leading to increased poverty.
It is evident that there were high rates of foreign investments, high supply of raw materials and patent systems that protected individual innovations during industrialization. However, the effects of industrialization in America was associated with negative effects to the people such as formation of unfavorable labor laws, poverty and marginalization of some groups of people. The worse affected groups were men, children, women, and immigrants.
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