The industrial revolution has been examined by many scholars. While Some see it as a negative event in
our history, others think that it was the beginning of a better world. E.P Thompson and James Burke,
both studied the industrial revolution. In this essay I will examine the viewpoint of these two historians
on the industrial revolution.
Thompson was a socialist. The industrial revolution created a reality that was not consistent with the
socialistic ideology; therefore, Thompson saw the industrial revolution in a negative light. In
“Childhood”, he described how before the revolution children worked in the caring environment of their
homes. They were performing work according to their abilities and were protected by their families. As
the industrial revolution occurred, family economy was not bringing enough money. Family members,
including children, had to go out and work. The family economy came to end, a process that, according
to Thompson, was brutal. Children became a very big chunk of the labour force as they were cheap, fast,
did not get tired like the adults and their small body structure was a perfect fit for work like mining.
Children became cheap labour that was exploited and brutalized. They worked long shifts in very bad
conditions. Thompson brought up few stories that demonstrate the horrors of child labour. He tells in
length how the authorities were apathetic, how there was no proper enforcement to the laws and
regulations that were supposed to protect the children. He blamed the rich and the powerful for
exploiting the unfortunate to earn money. The poor got more miserable, while the rich earned more
capital. Thompson describes that period as the most shameful in our history.
Burke is a science historian and a liberal. As the industria