In the Industrial Revolution (1750-1900), the main innovative industries which saw increasing development were the textile industry, the steam industry, the coal mining industry, the sugar industry, the tobacco industry, and the iron founding industry. Samuel Crompton (1753-1827) the spinning mule; John Kay (1704 – 1764) flying shuttle; Sir Richard Arkwright (1732-92) spinning frame; Edmund Cartwright (1743-1823) the power loom; James Hargreaves (1720- 1778) the Spinning Jenny; and James Watt (1736-1819) steam engine Richard Trevithick (1771-1833) the railway. The water frame, the spinning mule, steam boat, the spinning jenny, power loom, cotton, gin, the cotton mill, the steam engine, and the blast furnace all profited plantation and industrial owners as the plants converted raw material to valuable marketable items.
It must be remembered the industrial revolution blossomed amidst the enforcement of slavery and the profitable sugar and tobacco economies. The Industrial Revolution is a symbol of dehumanization and alienation where man is reduced to ‘objects of merchandise’ – automaton. Man becomes alienated and mechanized. Workers who live from wage to wage and are sleep deprived, work long hours and are denied health coverage. The ill-treatment at the hands of supervisors and employers make life hard. Unfair wages, the ever-present threat of being sacked. The workers have no right to protest. No trade union to represent their interests. The workers have only their labor to offer, vulnerable and helpless, exposed to harsh weather conditions, mortal risks on the jobs, no health allowance or coverage, denied toilet/canteen facilities. The workers must work according to a time, doing monotonous labor in the factories and companies which exploited them, where they would face life-endangering working conditions. Women and children had lower wages since they were weaker and more docile (Allen 2009).
Industries propagated ways to constrain the workers to bear with sub-human practices and exploitation. Abuse, cruelty, death threats, torture, sexual harassment, and the constant threat of unemployment are the devices managers used to take unfair advantage. Capitalism soared as a result so then the era was characterized and supported by a capitalistic industrial economy. (Munro 2006) affirms that “those who were now employed in this distinctly new form of industrial capitalism no longer worked in their own homes, or properties, and no longer owned their tools of production. They worked in large establishments and in effect sold only one commodity: their labor power, for wages, to their employer, the industrial capitalist” (Munro 2006). Thus, the revolution saw the increase in laissez faire capitalism where man becomes “a unit of production” according to Karl Marx.
However, despite the general disadvantages, the advent of the Industrial Revolution brings in its wake the expansion of work opportunities for women who before were confined to the private home setting. Also, it is during the Industrial Revolution that feminism begins to gain momentum in lobbying and public opinion, where women clamor for suffrage rights. “Many of the new technologies that had a profound impact on living standards in the 20th century (such as) electricity, the internal combustion engine, petroleum and other chemicals, telephones and radios, and indoor plumbing” (Atkeson 2001); so that First World countries in Europe and America we know it continued to develop more amenities and conveniences through technology.
Postmodernism’s Machine Age and Information Age have given rise to more abundant technological sophistications with more backlashes and side effects than ever. “The modern era after all has been marked by a series of spectacular scientific and technological breakthroughs…today’s widespread gloom to the presumed means of achieving all those advances (are caused by) the use, misuse, unforeseen consequences, or malfunctions of relatively new and powerful science based technologies…their destructive social and ecological consequences or side effects have been sufficiently conspicuous to account for much of today’s ‘technological pessimism’” (Marx 1994). Modern and postmodern technologies have climaxed in World War I, World War II, and several other wars. Instead of man taking control of the machine, Frankenstein-like, the machine becomes an uncontrollable, hideous beast which plagues its creator (Castells 2011).
The Information Age has also experienced its triumphs over the dark age of ignorance nevertheless; the computer age has begotten its share of woes and disasters. It has made the lifestyle more convenient and quicker especially in a fast-paced world where speed is emphasized in line with technology. As a result, microwaved food, high-speed internet, digital radio, QuickTime, QuickBooks, fast food, and speed dating are all elements which derive from technology’s lessening the time to do an activity.
In conclusion, the Industrial Revolution (1865-1901), the Machine Age (1900-1945), and Post-modernism’s Information Age (1970-2025) have all propelled man forward technologically modifying his work, lengthening life, and simplifying labor. Nevertheless, a few major issues to which technology has not provided the answer is the widespread: human injustice, joblessness, political unrest, ecological abuse, and sophisticated weaponry which all come along its tracks. Progression has always had a cost; but does technological advancement compensate for it?