In the Unit 1 discussion you considered how the Industrial Revolution shaped U.S. history. In this discussion, you will examine how the U.S. Industrial Revolution affected U.S. society, for better and for worse.

The rapid transition from a rural economy to an urban, mechanized (factory-based) economy dramatically affected the lives of American citizens and newly arrived immigrants.

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Yet, factory work was not for the faint of heart, as it was long, grueling, and exhausting. In addition, with an abundance of ready labor, factory workers had few rights because federal and state governments almost always sided with factory owners when disputes arose.

In time, there emerged another disquieting new development: the implementation of Frederick Taylor’s scientific management. The Oxford Dictionary defines Frederick Taylor’s scientific management as, “management of a business, industry, or economy, according to principles of efficiency derived from experiments in methods of work and production, especially from time-and-motion studies” (Oxford University Press, n.d.).

The implementation of such a system treated workers like machinery, to be tweaked and adjusted to increase output. Laborers tended to hate the system, as it indicated that a worker “should keep at his work with the unremitting persistence of a machine” (Rodgers, 1978). There was a depressing structure to such work, especially to those individuals who had come from an agricultural background. With the adoption of Taylor’s scientific management principles, factory work was regimented to the point where every aspect of the workday was measured and calculated to ensure increased output. As one historian lamented, “The heightened pace of this world was no longer linked to the cycle of the days and the passing of the seasons, but to the tempo of the timetable and the time clock” (Schlereth, 1991).

A satirical interpretation of the modern factory system can be found within Charlie Chaplin’s masterpiece, Modern Times (1936).

Another regrettable outcome of the factory system was child labor. Although child labor had existed earlier in American history, mechanized factory work would add a new layer to this vexing problem. The new equipment within many factories required nimble and small hands:

thus the need for young factory workers – kids! Workplace accidents involving young children were horrific. Child related factory accidents would start a discussion about government regulation of business practices, including child labor laws. Despite these newly codified child labor laws, children continued to work in the factories into the early 20th century. In 1900, about 1.75 million children (around 6% of the total labor force) still worked in the factory system and agriculture. (Boone, 2015)

Directions: Using the required academic readings and supplemental academic research, please address the following while adhering to the Discussion Board Rubric:

  • In your own words, define sociology and society.
  • How do you understand the relationship between technology and society?
  • What societal factors led to the Industrial Revolution within the United States*?
  • Select two examples of technology introduced and used within the United States between 1830 and 1920.
    • What were the effects of this technology on U.S. society?
    • What people, in particular, were affected by this technology?
    • Where within the United States did this technology affect U.S. society?
    • Did this technology lead to additional innovations, technologies, etc.?


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