Second Industrial Revolution

The Second Industrial Revolution was a period of important industrial, social and economic changes that emerged after the first stage of the Industrial Revolution started in Great Britain. This was developed between the years 1870 and 1914however there are those who frame its beginning from 1850.

The second stage of the Industrial Revolution spread to various countries and led to the emergence of great industrial and economic powers such as Germany, France, the United States and Japan.

These powers applied the new processes of industrialization, production, economic growth, technological and scientific advances, as well as the use of natural energy sources, among others.

It should be noted that there was not as such a division of stages of the Industrial Revolution, however it is emphasized that there was a second moment of accelerated growth in production based on technological and scientific advances.

It was at this stage that the steel mills emerged, the automotive and transportation industries were further developed, and the new oil, chemical, and electrical industries were created.

This led to industrial, market and intercountry competitiveness, generating new economic and market models that are part of the initial process of globalization.

Characteristics of the Second Industrial Revolution

Second industrial revolution.Capitalism

The Second Industrial Revolution gave way to the rise of Capitalism as a new economic and commercial order.

Among the main characteristics of the Second Industrial Revolution, the following can be mentioned:

  • As such, there was no break or division of stages of the Industrial Revolution, however, there is talk of a second part since this industrial, economic and social process expanded rapidly through various countries and led to multiple changes worldwide.
  • Scientific studies and research began to be applied in industries.
  • Significant advances arose in the automotive and communications area.
  • Important scientific advances were made such as Darwin’s Theory and various medical advances.
  • New sources of energy began to be used from electricity, gas and petroleum derivatives.
  • Resources and alloys such as steel, carbon or aluminum began to be used.
  • Automated machines used in large industries appeared.
  • The percentage of unemployment increased.
  • Serial production was applied as a work system.
  • They emerged from new economic models.
  • Market expansion.
  • New economic and industrial powers emerged that vied for the greatest control of the markets, for example, Germany, the United States and Japan.
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See also Characteristics of the Second Industrial Revolution.

Causes of the Second Industrial Revolution

Second industrial revolution. working class

The working class was largely made up of peasants who came to the big cities in search of a better quality of life, however they lived in precarious conditions due to the low wages they received.

The causes of this second stage of the Industrial Revolution derive from the continuous technological and scientific development initiated in the first stage of this revolution.

Population growth

During this stage the world population began to grow rapidly, it was also accompanied by a decreasing mortality rate due to the control of epidemics and various diseases.

Agrarian revolution

Although agricultural production increased, many peasants moved to the big cities in search of better jobs and quality of life, which generated higher unemployment and the reorganization of the cities.


As new sources of energy and their utility were discovered, such as oil, gas, and electricity, new types of industries also emerged. The chemical industry was even developed for alloys that allowed the use of aluminum, steel, nickel, among others.


Industrial development was rapid and generated new work, economic and market models in order to obtain greater wealth and commercial control.

However, this situation caused the creation of monopolies, the discontent of the workers, the concept of capitalism gained strength and, consequently, various social and labor struggles began.

Consolidation of the bourgeois class

During this time the bourgeois class was growing and largely supported the creation of new economic and political laws and regulations to encourage industrial production.

Consequences of the Second Industrial Revolution

Second industrial revolution. Serial production

In the Second Industrial Revolution, the mass production process was developed, which allowed faster and cheaper production.

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The consequences of this industrial process were both positive and negative and had an impact on the lives of citizens in general, the most important ones are presented below.

Of social order

There was a significant population growth, the peasants moved to the big cities and the cities grew, especially those where there was a greater possibility of finding work, hence there is talk of a social exodus.

Consequently, the working class or proletariat arose, which led to the creation of trade union organizations that began social struggles in search of labor and social improvement for employees. By then, there were marked differences between social classes.

On the other hand, women began to work outside the home and demand equal rights with men.

Economic order

A new industrial order was established that implemented mass production, hence the industrial processes were faster and cheaper than the workforce, therefore leading to the dismissal of a large number of employees. Serial production generated increased economic profits.

This is how capitalism was born, an economic system that allowed the creation of new companies, fostered commercial competition, established new trade codes, displaced artisanal production and led to the accumulation of great wealth.

Political order

A new political order was established to create laws based on the new industrialized systems, commercial mechanisms, the new social order and the rights of workers.

In this sense, the bourgeois class dominated much of the political activity and had to face the discontent of the working class that lived in conditions of poverty. The first socialist ideals that proclaimed improvements in labor and living conditions also appeared.

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Inventions and advances of the Second Industrial Revolution

Second industrial revolution. Telephone

One of the most outstanding inventions during the Second Industrial Revolution was the telephone, which facilitated communication between people.

During the Second Industrial Revolution, important social, political, economic, scientific, and technological research was carried out to improve people’s lives.

Energy sources

Through various scientific investigations, new sources of energy were found that led to significant development in various areas. This is how gas, oil and electricity began to be used.

In the area of ​​electricity, the inventors Nikola Tesla and Thomas Alva Edison stand out, the latter creating the electric light bulb. Likewise, with the discovery of oil and its derivatives, combustion engines were born, among the researchers the German engineer Rudolf Diesel stood out.

Technological advances and inventions

Technological advances included new transportation systems such as the airplane created by the Wright brothers (used in World War I), the automobile, the electric railway, and boiler-powered ships.

Regarding communication, the creation of the telegraph by Samuel Morse, of the telephone by Alexander Graham Bell, of the cinematography developed by the Lumiere brothers (images were transmitted without sound), and the radio stand out.

Scientific breakthroughs and inventions

In the scientific area there were also important advances, among which the Theory of Evolution of Charles Darwin, the processes of pasteurization and food preservation of Luis Pasteur, and the discovery of tuberculosis by Robert Cosme stand out.

Likewise, scientists discovered how to make use of certain metals such as aluminum, zinc or copper, as well as various chemical materials used in large industries to make fertilizers, including explosives.