Industrialisation and its Impact on Society

Industrialization is the transformation of an agrarian society to an industrialized one which uses machines to move from simple means of production to large and complex means of production.

Humans have evolved from cave dwellers to cultivators and those living in complex urban structures, thanks to their ability to make tools, be it inventing the wheel or learning to use fire. Today humans use machines for several of their requirements and we have entirely moved to the industrial age that now combines technology in powerful ways. The impact it has had on our lives goes beyond mechanization and seeps into the economic, cultural and social aspects of society.

The human society that produced handmade products and was mostly involved in agriculture moved to use machinery and labor to scale production using different production models.

Industrialization started with mechanization, leading to people moving away from agriculture. Coal extraction and the steam engine changed the way labor and goods were moved. Increased connectivity due to the railroad led to the vast movement of goods and people between regions. This also led to increased urbanization.

The invention of the internal combustion engine led to an increased demand for steel. The telephone revolutionized communications. Flight was mastered and humans became mobile through, sea, air and land at speeds never witnessed before.

In the 60s, humans learnt to harness and use nuclear energy. It was also the era of plastics, electronics, telecommunication and automation in several aspects of the industry.

The advent of the Internet has led to an explosion of ideas in the technological sector and now automation has reached several areas, thanks to artificial intelligence. Areas that were entirely the domain of humans, like art and writing are now being perfected by machines.

Industrialization has led to the growth of life sciences and the greater use of technology in medicine.

Industrialization has moved from mechanization (1700) to electrification (1800), to automation (1950), to globalization (1980s) to digitization (2000).

Humans suffered greatly due to death and disease. Industrialization helped reduce this through advances in medicine. The workplace moved from a place of low productivity and high human input to one of high output and lower human intervention. Work structures are more complex and have extensive scale.

Industrialization has also led to a deep divide between countries and individuals that have access to the means of production and the latest technology and those that haven’t. Predominantly agrarian societies did not have this divide.

Industrialization led to an increase in per capita income and the rise of the capitalist economy. It also led to poor working conditions in many cases, the use of child labour and the separation of individuals into skilled and unskilled labour. Industrialization also gave rise to the middle class.

The impact of industrialization on the environment has been highly negative. It has affected the quality of natural resources in the world. Microplastics have found their way into the waterways and pollution is a constant. Countries are trying new sources of energy, other than fossil fuel to generate growth. These new forms of energy may help reduce the impact of industrialization and pollution on our planet.

Socially, industrialization has led to rapid urbanization, the growth of smaller family units and increased mobility.

For better or worse, humans now live in an industrialized society and this impacts every aspect of their life and the environment around them. Technology continues to introduce changes in human society, but unlike before the changes are quicker and their impact on us faster. The lag between changes has reduced vastly. The latest advent of industrialization is artificial intelligence and how we gather real-time data about citizens around the world. Artificial intelligence will increase the automation of routine tasks which includes tasks done by highly educated individuals.

AI will lead to a disruption in labor markets. Increased interaction with technology will become the order of the day. Several job profiles will become redundant while new career paths that will include compatibility with technology will increase. Work will be redefined, with coworkers most likely being tools.