The Industrial Revolution: A World Transformed

By Sophia Maddox | January 19, 2024

Mass Production: The Debate About Quality vs. Quantity Begins

In the late 18th century, the world witnessed a profound and unprecedented transformation as traditional societies gave way to cultures that were driven largely by industry. This shift, characterized by technological innovations, mass production, and urbanization, laid the foundation for the modern world as we know it. Throughout the 18th and 19th centuries, innovative individuals continued to come up with new ideas and new ways to expand the economy, government, and society as a whole. 

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Mass production was perhaps the most important aspect of manufacturing during the Industrial Revolution. Economies around the world had never been as productive as they became with the innovations that made it possible for crews of workers to mass produce goods of virtually every kind. The demand for artisans continued to dwindle, as people decided they were willing to pay for items that were already constructed instead of waiting on a single artisan to manufacture them. 

Henry Ford, the man behind the Ford Motor Company, revolutionized the manufacturing world by implementing the assembly line. The manufacturing process was divided into sequential tasks, and each worker assumed responsibility for a particular component. This created a continuous flow of production but wasn’t without its issues. Debates raged that focused on quantity vs. quality. The human experience of work was being phased out slowly, as machines did more. Ultimately, people largely chose to trust the products churned out in factories and the consumer-driven economy became a staple of the world as we know it.

Consumerism: The Impact of Supply and Demand on Culture

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As the availability of new goods and products transformed lifestyles, consumerism thrived. With an increase in manufacturing efficiency and ongoing innovations in transportation, the distribution of various goods became much easier. Factories started churning out products at never-before-seen rates. Instead of producing goods within households or relying on local artisans, consumers could order multiple products and have them quickly in their possession. 

Department stores and catalogs offered a new way for people to acquire the products that they wanted. The desire to keep up with the latest trends became ingrained in society. Manufacturers recognized that they could charge more for products that people wanted, and the laws of supply and demand were put into motion on a large scale. Today’s consumer-centric economy still operates based on the same principles that became so prevalent during the Industrial Revolution.