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  • Cited by 1
  • Print publication year: 2010
  • Online publication date: July 2010

3 - Technology


Few aspects of Victorian life escaped the impact of industrialization. The experience of time and space was transformed in fundamental ways, but so too were the visual, aural, olfactory and tactile environments. To this extent the period saw an intensification of processes already well under way by 1837, as well as the effects of new forces. Industrialization had significantly developed in the previous century, but Victoria's reign was to see steam power reach its full potential. And towards the end of her reign a second phase of industrialization took place, this time based on electricity, the combustion engine, organic chemistry and new ideas about scientific management.

At its most basic, the industrial revolution was a revolution in the nature of manufacture, transport and communications, but shifts in these areas affected almost all aspects of experience. The nature of work was transformed, and the nature of class relations, but so was the link between work place and home, and the material culture of both; the industrialization of manufacture brought the prices of goods down, beginning the democratization of consumerism, while improvements in glass and lighting created a new consumer environment of arcades and department stores. When transport changed dramatically, the experience of landscape and cityscape altered; new methods of communication brought the regions closer together, creating standard national time in place of the many local times.

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