The second industrial revolution

Between the late 1800 and early 1900s many discoveries and inventions made a big step forward in scientific and technological development that had already begun in 1700s. This period has been identified as the "second industrial revolution" the dynamo was invented and gave birth to the first power plants, the first electric motor was invented that was installed into the trams (Galileo Ferraris), the communications were developed thanks to the inventions of the telegraph ( Samuel Morse 1871); the photography, the cinema, the bulb were invented (Edison – 1879). With the invention of the combustion engine, the first cars began to circulate in the streets and sailing steamships on the seas that were capable of going on long overseas voyages.
The excavation of the Suez Canal and the Panama Canal reduced the hours necessary to connect countries and continents. Even in medicine great discoveries were made: German physician Robert Koch discovered the tubercle bacillus (1882) and the cholera bacillus (1884), thanks to a microscope that he perfected.


In 1885, French physician Louis Pasteur discovered the vaccine against rabies.

The effects of the industrial revolution were felt in Italy only at the end of 1800s, when factories such as Pirelli, Marelli, Fiat were built. During this period, popular discontent "exploded" with strikes and demonstrations, because of the high cost of consumer goods, due to the severe economic crisis that swept across Europe in the last decades of the nineteenth century: the industrial development had led to great discoveries but, at the same time, had brought new problems. The workers lived under very difficult conditions: unhealthy housing built near factories or mines, no sewerage and roads, heavy work schedules, wages too low in case of accident, illness or unemployment.

According to the theory of the two German philosophers Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, who took the name of Marxism or socialism, proletarians ("rich" only in children) around the world would have to unite against the capitalists, i.e. the owners of the factories and capital, to assume power. In this way a new society without exploitation and poverty would come: factories, mines and land would become the property of all. These ideas spread throughout Europe, giving rise to the socialist and communist parties and the trade unions that fought for the workers’ rights with strikes and demonstrations. The Church, for its part, with Pope Leo XIII and the document Rerum Novarum (1891), invited the bosses to give fair wages to workers and Catholics interested in living conditions of the workers established Catholic cooperatives and trade unions.


The first industrial revolution

The changes made by the industrial society

The industrial societies and transformations

The Third World

The family and the influence of the industrial society

The changes in work

Trade unions



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