The Second Industrial Revolution for AP European History (page 3)

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By — McGraw-Hill Professional
Updated on Mar 4, 2011

Social Effects

The Second Industrial Revolution transformed European society in significant ways:

  • Urbanization increased rapidly, as the population moved into hastily built housing in cities to be nearer to the factories.
  • Families were separated as the place of work shifted from the home to factories.
  • Work lost its seasonal quality, as workers were required to follow a routine schedule.
  • The pace of work, driven by machines, increased dramatically.
  • The overall health of the workforce declined because of the harsh and unhealthy conditions of the factories.
  • The availability of work became unpredictable as it rose and fell with the demand for goods.
  • Gradually, women who had first been drawn into cities to work in the factories lost their manufacturing jobs as machines decreased the demand for labor; cut off from their families, many had no other option than prostitution.
  • Artisans and craftsmen lost their livelihoods, unable to compete with the lower cost of mass-produced goods.
  • The traditional impediment to marriage, which was the need for land, disappeared and people began to marry younger.
  • A much greater portion of the population could afford factory-made goods.
  • There was further change in the class structure as industrialization created both a class of newly wealthy industrialists and a precariously situated lower middle class of managers and clerks.
  • Close working and living conditions produced a sense of class consciousness among the working class.

Artistic Movements in the Industrial Age

Artistic expression in the industrial age was dominated by three styles: realism, impressionism, and postimpressionism.

In the middle of the nineteenth century, young painters rejected both the romantic fantasies and the glorification of the past that had interested their predecessors. The realists sought instead to accurately and honestly render the life around them in meticulous detail. A primary example of the realist movement is the work of Gustav Courbet. In his Burial at Ornans (1849–1850), for example, Courbet depicted the members of a small village burying one of its community members without trying to convey any particular emotion or moral message.

By the late nineteenth century, realism gave way to the impressionist movement. The impressionists desired to render not the reality of the scene but the reality of the visual experience. The visual experience, the impressionists believed, consisted of the interaction between light, color, and human perception. Accordingly, they created images that evoked the visual experience by painting with visible brush strokes and heightened color. Édouard Manet's Impressionisme soleil levant, or Impressionism, Sunrise (1872), is often cited as the work that gave impressionism its name. Other influential impressionist painters of the period were Pierre Auguste Renoir, Edgar Degas, and Claude Monet.

After about a decade, a new generation of painters began to reject the limitations imposed by the impressionist movement. The result was a movement often known as postimpressionism, which combined the visible brush strokes, heightened color, and real-life subject matter of impressionism with an emphasis on geometric form and unnatural color to create a more emotionally expressive effect. Perhaps the most famous example of postimpressionist painting is Vincent van Gogh's Starry Night (1889). Other influential postimpressionist painters of the late nineteenth century include Georges Seurat, Mary Cassatt, Paul Gauguin, and Paul Cézanne.

Science in the Industrial Age

Advances in gas theory and a spirit of scientific realism dominated the physical sciences in the nineteenth century. Physicists in this period concentrated on providing a scientific understanding of the processes that drove the engines of the Industrial Revolution. In the middle of the nineteenth century, physicists such as the German Rudolph Clausius and the Scotsman James Maxwell developed the kinetic theory of gases. Their theory envisioned gas pressure and temperature as resulting from a certain volume of molecules in motion. Such an approach allowed them to analyze, and therefore to measure and predict, pressure and temperature statistically. Later in the century, physicists such as Robert Mayer, Hermann von Helmholtz, and William Thompson pursued this kind of statistical analysis to articulate the laws of thermodynamics.

The success of the "matter in motion" models in physics created a wider philosophical movement that argued that all natural phenomena could and should be understood as the result of matter and motion. The movement, known as materialism, was first articulated by a trinity of German natural philosophers: Karl Vogt, Jakob Moleschott, and Ludwig Büchner. By the end of the nineteenth century, materialism had become a foundational assumption of the scientific view of the world.

The natural sciences in the nineteenth century were dominated by Charles Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection. As a young man, Darwin had sailed around the globe as the naturalist for the H.M.S. Beagle. During the Beagle's five-year voyage, commencing 27 December 1831 and ending 2 October 1836, Darwin collected specimens for shipment home to England and made observations on the flora and fauna of the many continents he explored. Twenty-three years later, he published a book titled On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life. In Origin, Darwin offered an explanation to the two questions at the heart of nineteenth-century natural science: why was there so much diversity among living organisms, and why did organisms seem to "fit" into the environments in which they lived? Darwin's answer, unlike earlier answers that referred to God's will and a process of creation, was materialist in nature. He argued that both the wide range of diversity and the environmental "fit" of living organisms to their environment were due to a process that he termed "natural selection." The fact that many more organisms were born than could survive led, Darwin explained, to a constant "struggle for existence" between individual living organisms. Only those individuals that survived the struggle passed their physical characteristics on to their offspring. Over millions of years, that simple process had caused populations of organisms to evolve in ways that produced both the amazing diversity and the environmental "fit."

Origin went through six editions, and Darwin's theory became the central organizing principle of the science of biology, which developed in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. In 1871 Darwin published The Descent of Man, which explained Darwin's views on how human beings had come into being through the process of natural selection.

Rapid Review

Between 1820 and 1900, the demand for goods on the part of a steadily increasing population was met by entrepreneurs who created the factory system. The new system standardized and increased industrial production. As the century went on, the development of four interrelated heavy industries—iron and steel, coal mining, steam power, and railroads—combined to drive Europe's economy to unprecedented heights, constituting a Second Industrial Revolution. The urbanization, standardization of work, and effects of the class system wrought by the Second Industrial Revolution significantly transformed social life in Europe.

The changes wrought by the Industrial Revolution provoked new developments in both the arts and sciences. In the arts, the three related styles of realism, impressionism, and postimpressionism developed. Progress in the physical sciences manifested itself in the development of the kinetic theory of gases, while the natural sciences were dominated by Charles Darwin's innovative theory of evolution by natural selection.

The review questions for this study guide can be found at:

The Second Industrial Revolution Review Questions for AP European History

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