- Why did industrialisation lead to challenges to political structures? Provide examples in your answer.
The focus should be on the challenges and not on the actual changes. There were two main elements to the challenges.
- The first was the growth of a large and wealthy bourgeoisie which, in both France and in the UK, demanded political power commensurate with their growing economic power and this led to a challenge to the existing aristocratic power structure in all countries.
- The second was the gradual growth of organised labour, the rise of Trade Unions, with their initial demands for better working and living conditions, which were followed by a demand for the franchise and a share in political power as well. The domination of the landed aristocracy, and the monarchy, were also challenged by this huge economic change.
2. Explain why the Industrial Revolution affected the standard of living. Provide examples to illustrate your answer.
A variety of central factors could be considered.
- Real wages certainly rose and fell in different areas and for different reasons.
- Earlier agricultural changes had made a major impact on diet and population rose as a result. However, the decline in infant mortality led to larger families which in itself had an impact on the standard of living. In some cases housing improved, but the transition from a rural to an urban slum was often not a beneficial process.
- Diseases such as cholera thrived better in an urban environment.
- The effect on a growing middle class could be dramatic and further up the social scale those aristocrats who did invest could reap huge benefits. For many there was a dramatic improvement, but not all the benefits flowed equally downwards.
‘Overall, industrialisation was a benefit to the lower classes.’ To what extent do you agree with this view? Refer to any two countries in your answer.
- For the case ‘for’, factors such as the regularity of employment and the fact that the population grew and infant mortality declined could be discussed. Unions gained recognition and powers, factories were gradually regulated and working hours declined. Child labour reduced. Education became compulsory and gradually welfare systems came into being. There was greater opportunity to ‘rise’. Civic pride and a growing awareness that a healthy and nonrevolutionary workforce was an asset to a nation led to further changes.
- The ‘lower classes’ developed their own political parties which grew in influence, if only because ‘upper’ class politicians became aware of the growing electoral importance of working class voters.
- The case ‘against’ is well known. Certainly, there was a flight from the land as urbanisation grew and enclosure reduced the need for a rural workforce, but often there was little to differentiate the problems faced by the urban, as opposed to the rural, proletariat. Both living and working conditions initially were barbaric in many cases. It could well be argued that life was nasty, brutal and short for much of the working class throughout the whole of the 19th century.