Class 10 History

Age of Industrialisation: Life of Workers

These notes are based on the chapter Age of industrialisation from class 10 social sciences history NCERT book and CBSE syllabus.

How was the life of workers in Britain during the age of industrialisation? Workers came from what sort of places? What was the condition of employment? Workers lived in which kind of condition? You will get answers to these questions on this page.

Migration from Countryside

There was large scale migration from countryside to cities in search of jobs. Finding a job was not easy. Finding a job depended on existing network of friendship and kin relations. People without existing social connections in the cities found it difficult to find a job. Many people had to wait for long periods before they could get a job.

Such people often had to spend nights on bridges or in night shelters. Some private individuals set up Night Refuges. The Poor Law authorities maintained Casual Wards for such people.

Seasonal Unemployment

Many jobs were seasonal in nature. Once a busy season was over, the poor were once again on the streets as they became jobless. While some people returned to the countryside, many stayed back to look for some odd jobs.

High Rate of Unemployment

Unemployment was rampant. During the best of the times till the mid-nineteenth century, about 10% of urban population was extremely poor. During the periods of economic slump, the unemployment increased anything between 35 and 75%.

Workers often turned hostile to new technology because of fear of unemployment. For example; when Spinning Jenny was introduced, women began to attack the new machines because they survived on hand spinning.

This mindset can be seen even in modern times. When computers came in India, most of the people began to protest against computerization because of fear of losing their jobs. Now-a-days, you can read and hear many news about how Artificial Intelligence is going to gobble up jobs.

Construction Activity

After the 1840s, construction activity increased in the cities. This opened greater employment opportunities. Construction of building generates good number of employment opportunities both for skilled and unskilled workers.

The number of workers in the transport industries doubled in the 1840s, and doubled again in the subsequent 30 years. This was possible because there was growth in need of transport with so many people migrating to cities.