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Second Industrial Revolution – Definition, Characteristics, Consequences, and More

Second Industrial Revolution – Definition, Characteristics, Consequences, and More


Second industrial revolution This phenomenon can be considered the second phase of the first Industrial Revolution experiencing in the United Kingdom. The countries where the industrial advances spread were France, Germany, Belgium, Japan, and the United States. Subsequently, industrialization would apply to Spain, Russia, Italy, and Western countries. Decades later, we are experiencing a  third and even a  fourth industrial revolution. The Second Industrial Revolution meant that technological and scientific advances came out of the UK, reaching other places. The expansion of these elements also had repercussions in these countries.

Characteristics of the Second Industrial Revolution

Experimentation brought new materials and new sources of energy.

The main characteristics of the Second Industrial Revolution were:

It was a stage of acceleration or intensification in the changes of the Industrial Revolution, which last from about 1850 or 1870 to the start of World War I in 1914. Local markets expand and began to internationalize base on the possibility of quickly moving goods from one place to another. This happening in the framework of the First Globalization.

New materials (for example, new alloys ), new chemicals, and new ways of obtaining energy were developing  in a veritable era of inventiveness and industrial creation whose changes were only comparable to those of the so-called Scientific Revolution of the 17th century. Serial production was imposing  as a working model and the large company as a successful economic model, which changed the oligarchic ownership model of the means of production in the First Industrial Revolution. Companies allowed the participation of third parties through the purchase of shares.

With the business boom, the massive application of scientific knowledge and research began to develop new industrial projects. As a result, scientific knowledge became very profitable for the bourgeoisie. There were notable systematic advances that impacting  the quality of life and Western cultures, such as Darwin’s Theory of Evolution or the first steps toward modern medicine. Unemployment and social unrest grew, along with rivalry between the great European imperial powers. In addition, new industrial rivals such as the United States and Japan were added to this panorama.

Causes of the Second Industrial Revolution

To a certain extent, the Second Industrial Revolution was a logical next step after the first, machines’ success in the industrial sphere in England. The economic success that it brought with it would soon be replicating and desire by other rival powers. . But among the reasons that led to this stage of acceleration of changes are also the following:

  • In the old European monarchies, the political triumph of liberalism and the bourgeoisie during the eighteenth century brought new forms of economic association typical of democratic and non-absolutist systems.
  • The mercantilist competition between the European powers led to protectionist policies that sought to promote the development of national industry and limiting  the importation of foreign goods.
  • The imperial expansion of the European controls in Asia and Africa allowing the accumulation of raw materials essential for industrial growth.

Population growth in Europe result from technical improvements in agricultural production and the first advances in modern medicine.

Consequences of the Second Industrial Revolution

Both the railway and the ship expand the possibilities of transportation.

The Second Industrial Revolution brought with it the following consequences in the short, medium, and long term:

  1. Scientific knowledge and technical research are apply to industrial development and serial productivity. This translated into obtaining new materials, industrial procedures, and economic models.
  2. The transport revolution, thanks to the development of revolutionary inventions such as the steam engine and especially the railway, which already in 1870 had more than 100,000 kilometers of tracks laid in Europe and 70,000 in the United States, which made it the primary terrestrial means of communication in the world.
  3. The consolidation of capitalism as a world economic system, hand in hand with the so-called First Globalization and the internationalization of markets, thanks to the rapid movement of raw materials and manufacturing goods over great distances.
  4. Large companies became political actors with influence and lobbying power within local governments, which led to economic protectionism and international competition among industrial imperial powers.
  5. The rise of new industrial rivals for Britain, some in Europe such as Germany, France, and the Netherlands, and others outside, such as Japan and the United States, increasing the economic and geopolitical tensions in Europe that later cause the First World War.

Inventions and scientific advances of the Second Industrial Revolution

The first automobiles were creating  at the end of the 19th century and became popular in the 20th.

The Second Industrial Revolution was prolific in discoveries, inventions, and new scientific and technical procedures. Among the most important are:

  1. The massive use of new metals such as steel (1856), zinc (1830), aluminum (1886), nickel (1860), manganese, and chrome (1900) was discover and was given rise to.
  2. The first artificial dyes were developing from benzol and coal, displacing virtually all-natural dyes.
  3. There was a gigantic development of explosives to replace traditional gunpowder: nitroglycerin, nitrocellulose, and in 1866 , an explosive that revolution the military and mining fields.
  4. New and powerful fertilizers were invents, such as superphosphates and sodium nitrate, use chiefly in agriculture in Europe.
  5. year (1840) and playing a vital role in urban growth in the 19th century.
  6. The first steam-powered commercial vehicles were inventing  after the first steamship (the “Savannah”) crossing the Atlantic in 1819. In 1850, the first “steam locomotives” exhibition was held in France.

What is the Second Industrial Revolution?

What is the Second Industrial Revolution_

The Second Industrial Revolution corresponds to the period between 1850-and 1870.  And the beginning of the  First World War in 1914. It was a time of significant economic and social changes due to rapid technological development. Technology has changing the world in many ways throughout history. Still, the Second Industrial Revolution period was unprecedented: it transform everyday life with new energy sources, transportation, production, and telecommunications.


Technological and scientific advances begin to take a more complex turn. Access was gained to different natural resources, unavailable.

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