The Second Industrial Revolution During the 19th Century

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After 1871, Europe was experiencing tremendous material growth produced by the Second Industrial Revolution. The Second Industrial Revolution gave rise to new inventions and products, markets and larger factories, and a new leader in the competitive indus

The First Industrial Revolution had forever changed England, and later the world. After 1871, however, Europe was experiencing tremendous material growth produced by the Second Industrial Revolution. The Second Industrial Revolution gave rise to new inventions and products, markets and larger factories, and a new leader in the competitive industry.



During the Second Industrial Revolution, steel replace iron, along with new forms of shaping the product itself to produce more efficient machines and engines, as well as ships and railroads. In the 1870’s, Great Britain was leading Germany in steel production, however with the start of the Second Industrial Revolution, Germany was producing double that of Great Britain.

The German laboratories were producing alkalies for the textile, soap, and paper industries and new organic compounds were used to create dyestuffs. New methods of production once again rivaled Great Britain’s success in the First Industrial Revolution. Using electricity as a new form of energy, generators were produced, thus providing power distribution centers for homes, businesses, and industry.

Coal had been the main source of energy during the First Industrial Revolution in Great Britain, so countries that had little or no access to coal at that time, now had an entirely new way to compete during the new industrial age. Consequently, when steam engines were invented during the First Industrial Revolution, this provided a faster mode of transportation, instead of the use of horses and carriages. Now, with the aid of an internal combustion engine powered by liquid fuels, ocean liners, naval fleets, automobiles, and airplanes started to be introduced to the masses for everyday transportation. However, passenger air service wouldn’t come about until 1919.

During the First Industrial Revolution, the markets were saturated with industrialists trying to compete in a vast European market. While prices of transportation and food decreased after 1870, businesses recognized the need to produce more consumer products for families and individuals looking to spend their surplus wages. Businesses used mass marketing of products using new techniques of electricity and the development of steel for building purposes. Department stores were constructed to bring together all types of products for the consumer, all in one convenient place.


Industrialists and business owners recognized the need to protect their domestic products, so the tariffs were once again returned to the economy to protect investment. Cartels were also formed to decrease competition internally, thereby eliminating reduced prices for products. As production of products increased, so did the need for larger manufacturing plants. This led to a substantial increase in factory workers, however it also called for more efficiency and streamlined productivity. The factory workers were the heart of the factory itself during the First Industrial Revolution, however, new inventions during the Second Industrial Revolution like the crane to move materials, precision tools, and the assembly line eliminated the need for workers, thus cutting labor costs.

Great Britain may have paved the way for industrials during the first revolution, however after 1870; Germany was swiftly replacing Great Britain as the Industrial leader in Europe. Since the industrial plant had already been established in Great Britain, it was difficult to transition to new techniques and machinery. The Germans, however, built the latest and most efficient manufacturing plants.

Since Britain was notoriously suspicious of any new innovations in industry, they chose not to invest in the latest machinery, thus they suffered economically in that aspect. The German industrialists were accustomed to change, so acquiring more capital from banks for expansion was never a concern. Furthermore, German industry was aided by professionals in science and technology who consistently worked with firms to produce the latest in inventions for efficient and economically productive products.

Due to the Second Industrial Revolution, there was greater material prosperity for industrialists. The mass society emerged, whereby many individuals from rural areas migrated to urban centers for work. New work patterns enabled people to enjoy leisure time, even weekend excursions, providing families with more time to spend with each other.

This was a great deal different than the First Industrial Revolution, where hours and working conditions were dreadful and there were no extra hours for any other activity besides work. The main initiative was support of the family at all costs, now with a new age of progress, things were drastically changing for the better.


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