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6.3 The Second Industrial Revolution

#industrialeurope

⏱️  3 min read

written by

Sharii Liang

sharii liang

May 12, 2020


Almost a century after the First Industrial Revolution began, the innovation of the time was finally beginning to slow down. Life had changed significantly for all people in all types of different nations. After a lull in innovation for a few decades, the Second Industrial Revolution sprang up in a multitude of different nations. This time, automation was old news. Electricity and chemicals though? ⚡

The End of the First Industrial Revolution

By the 1830s to 1840s, innovation and invention began dying down, much of England had become industrialized. The first industrialized city, Manchester, England, led the way for other nearby nations and cities to build factories and transform their cities into bustling hubs of disease, pollution, and crime. Textile production boomed, and economic growth was rampant for those fortunate enough to industrialize. 

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Image Courtesy of Encyclopedia Britannica

Industrialization 2.0

In the 1870s the Second Industrial Revolution began, and this time it focused on enhancing machinery rather than creating it. A synergy between railroads and building materials allowed for quick transportation of materials and finished products and building materials could then be used to expand railroads.

New inventions capitalized on new discoveries and industries such as electricity and chemistry. Water, coal, and iron were now secondary to petroleum, electricity, and the newly discovered Bessemer process to create steel. 

The First Industrial Revolution’s power sources continued to be used in the Second Industrial Revolution and today, just less than electricity and gas. By the beginning of 1914, factories with machinery became the only way that businesses could supply enough product to fulfill demand.

🎥 Watch: AP European History - Industrial Revolution and Reform

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New Industries and Invention

The rise of electricity, steel, and petroleum would lead to many different inventions such as the automobile, railroad (now improved with steel), the telegraph, the telephone, amusement parks, skyscrapers, radios, steamships, airplanes, refrigeration, and an all-new manufacturing system. 

New industries that arose during this time were the automobile industry, the chemical industry, and the steel industry. The Krupp family in Germany were known for their production of steel. 

Thank the Second Industrial Revolution for the bright, synthetic colors of today’s clothes, automobiles, telephones, lightbulbs, skyscrapers, and amusement parks. 

The Rise of Mass Society

Mass Society is when a culture has become commonplace in a society with large, impersonal public institutions. This culture in the Second Industrial Revolution was workplace culture which resulted in improvements for the lower classes. There are four aspects to late-19th century Mass Society: Mass Advertisement, Mass Production, Mass Leisure, and Mass Politics. 

Mass advertisement was meant to reach large groups of people by producers in order to draw more customers. It could be transmitted through the radio 📻 and newspapers.

Mass production was ushered in by the father of the automobile, Henry Ford, and his moving assembly line. It shortened production times by a substantial amount and helped keep up with the demand by allowing commodities to be produced efficiently in large amounts. 🚗

Mass leisure refers to the after-work activities that popped up during the Second Industrial Revolution. Amusement parks began appearing, and the automobile allowed workers to drive to faraway places for a vacation and be back in time for work. Music-halls, theaters, and team sports were also popular for the common person. 🎡

Mass politics is the rise of political parties that sought to represent groups of the common people. They saw the tragic state of cities and the working conditions of the lower classes. Determined to make right, multiple groups would campaign to reform living and working conditions, expand voting rights, and give the masses education.

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