• Unit 7: Mass Production, the Labor Movement, and the Consumer Society

    In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, a so-called "Second Industrial Revolution" centered on electronics and chemicals brought new changes to industrial production and everyday life. While the inventions and early successes of the first Industrial Revolution were the work of small businessmen and individual capitalists, the innovations of the second phase came out of large business organizations. Fierce competition among these companies led to the consolidation of industries by monopoly firms or the creation of cartels. New ideas changed how people worked within these giant firms, resulting in even greater improvements in the speed and efficiency of production. Workers reacted to these changes by forming political associations, seeking bargaining power with large capitalists. For all classes, this period represented a transition to a mass society, characterized by the large-scale marketing and distribution of products, services, and ideas. New machines and new media turned individuals living in limited regions into consumers of products and information from a vast national or international community.

    In this unit, we will examine the institutional, political, and social changes that came to industrialized societies in the 19th and 20th centuries.

    Completing this unit should take you approximately 4 hours.