Industrialisation brought with it division of labour and a drive towards mass production. It introduced a new class of society called the middle-class. A society that uses industrialisation is characterised by the large scale use of technology and machinery. Industrialisation changed society in several ways. Philosophers like Karl Marx, Emile Durkheim and Max Weber attributed several social characteristics to industrialisation. While an agrarian society had more face to face interactions and a personal connection between the employer and the employee, industrialisation brought a high degree of impersonal to professional relationships.
Urbanisation or settling in urban areas, where the major economic activities were industrial activities, was also a result of industrialisation. Another far-reaching effect of industrialisation was the division of labour. This caused a removal of the individual from the final product. People would often work on very small sections of the production process and would be unable to see the result of their labour. Consequently, people would do the work but would not enjoy it. Marx called this alienation.
Characteristics of the industrial class structure
- Greater equality: Industrialisation makes and breaks several social conventions. One such feature is that it creates greater equality in Indian society. When people work in factories, they work side by side with members of all castes and creeds. However, this may be true only in a minimal sense. Older prejudices of caste, etc., may still prevail when promotions are concerned.
- Economic disparity: One prominent feature of industrialisation was the creation of large amounts of wealth for individuals in a short period. This is true even today and has caused income disparity to increase. That is why the factory owning class that started as the middle class is now the elite in most countries.
- Division of labour: As industrialisation progressed, its organisation became increasingly complex. Today, most industries involve many jobs that require different levels of education and expertise. This has created a very high degree of division of labour. For example, the textile industry employs hundreds of thousands of people occupied in anything from maintenance staff in office buildings to highly skilled textile designers to management and even marketers.
Industrial class structure in India
In its initial phase, industrialisation in India resulted in the expansion of the trader class. Its effects became more complex and caused several other changes as it progressed. But broadly speaking, it resulted in the formation of an industrial class structure in the urban areas of India. It created a class of people who grew very rich over a span of a lifetime. These people were factory owners who employed hundreds of people in mass production factories. So there was a class of industrial labourers who worked in these factories. And finally, as industries grew in range and complexity, they made way for a skilled class of professionals. So the class structure of the industrial revolution was a structure that consisted of:
The capitalists: They are the owners of the industries and businesses. They invest the capital and earn profits on their investment.
The skilled professionals: As technology has advanced, so have the needs of the industry. For businesses to implement new technology, skilled professionals are needed. These can be any field from management to fieldwork.
The factory workers: The backbone of any production line are the factory workers who keep the production process running smoothly.
The industrial class structure is not based on traditional Indian social divisions. Theoretically, anyone with the right skillset can be employed for the desired job. This has created more equality in the urban areas of India. Moreover, the vast scale of production and the enormous amounts of capital involved mean that families are no longer the primary production units. Instead, families are now the primary units of consumption. There has been an overall development in society’s values, but it has come with its problems of economic disparity and pollution, etc. So the class structure of the industrial revolution has come a long way from where it started.