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Industrial Revolution Living Conditions Essay Contest

Any student in a modern western civilization or history course will of course reach those units related to the Industrial Revolution – the early Industrial Revolution (1750-1850) in England and the ensuing second Industrial Revolution that spread to the rest of Western Europe and America.

This was a fascinating time in man’s journey, for it brought changes in lifestyles that no one could have imagined, along with social, economic, and political upheaval. It is no wonder, then, that instructors and professors love to assign essay and research papers on a huge variety of topics related to both Industrial Revolutions. If you have options for topics, you will have no problem finding one that interests you, because they are so varied. And almost any type of essay can be written as well – descriptive, definition, comparison/contrast, cause/effect, and persuasive/argumentative. Here are some topic ideas for essays of each type.


  1. Describe the working conditions in specific industries – meat packing, coal mining, steel or automotive factories.
  2. Describe the impact of the invention of the steam engine on industries other than transportation
  3. Describe the exodus from rural to urban areas and the living conditions in urban areas surrounding factories


  1. What is an industrial revolution? Can we say that mankind, throughout all of history, has had mini industrial revolutions beginning with the invention of the wheel?
  2. Provide an extensive definition of the term division of labor both during the Industrial Revolution and today
  3. How did Henry Ford define the factory system that he created?


  1. Contrast the manufacturing systems that used steam engine power with those that later came to use coal and hydroelectric power?
  2. Compare and contrast the lifestyles of so-called “native” Americans with those of newer immigrants who came from Eastern and Southern Europe.
  3. Contrast the public educational systems between the years 1875-1945 and today.


  1. What were the effects of the Industrial Revolution on the family unit?
  2. What changes in governmental economic policies occurred as a result of the industrial revolution?
  3. What conditions and pressures resulted in child labor, work hours, and working conditions laws that restricted powerful industrial leaders?


  1. Write a persuasive essay that supports or rejects the notion of laissez-faire capitalism.
  2. Minimum wage laws in the U.S. began in 1938. Make a case that they are or are not necessary today.
  3. Government regulations of industry and commerce began as early as the 1920’s. Are we-over-regulated today?
  4. What single invention during the Industrial Revolution (first or second) do you believe has, over time, had the greatest impact on man?

Writing the Industrial Revolution Essay

These essays, like those for any other courses, will require the same basic structure – introduction, body and conclusion. As well, be certain that you have included the following:

  1. A strong thesis statement in your introduction. Why is this topic important? The answer to that question will give you your thesis.
  2. You must have supportive detail for each point that you make in your body paragraphs. This means that you will need facts and figures from research – don’t’ scrimp!
  3. Begin your essay with a startling statistic or a short anecdote from your research.
  4. Be creative. Your essay can utilize interesting formats. For example, an essay that describes life on the factory floor might be written in the form of a letter that a new immigrant is writing to his family back in Europe.

Writing the Industrial Revolution Research Paper

Any of the topics above could be expanded to produce an excellent research paper. And, because of the time period involved, there are innumerable primary resource materials available. Use those, rather than secondary source materials. They are easy to find, and your instructor or professor will be greatly impressed!

For these and any other essays or papers for which you need help, be sure to contact the helpful folks at

essay writing tipshistiry topics for essay

We can see it happening all around us: the combination of accessible, affordable, adaptable technologies that is changing the way we live and work; so fundamental to our lives that it is even shifting our understanding of what it means to be human. From ubiquitous mobile supercomputing, through artificially intelligent robots and genetically editable organisms, to neuro-technical enhancement, each of these and many other exciting technologies have moved out of the realm of science fiction and into the daily news.

Professor Klaus Schwab canvassed the World Economic Forum community on the extent and implications of what he dubbed The Fourth Industrial Revolution. Meanwhile, we asked Agenda readers What does the Fourth Industrial Revolution mean to you?

We asked that essays be 900 words or less and published on We received more than 60 submissions, all available here. The entries provide an immensely diverse, entertaining and informative collection, providing insight into the breadth and significance of the changes that we all see around us.

In the end, the contest demonstrated one thing clearly, the Fourth Industrial Revolution is a global phenomenon, affecting everyone from small scale entrepreneurs in Indonesia to Canadian software developers, from Indian business students to African thinkers.

And the implications of this new era touch on almost every aspect of our lives. One popular format was the futuristic scenario, describing the world we'll wake up in tomorrow, from a perfect morning in 2025, to a vivid techno dystopia in 2020. Others took a broader more academic approach. How will we be affected by the different ways that humans and technology can combine? What kind of leadership capabilities will be required in this new world? How can we effect a mindful revolution in human consciousness?

The short list

The challenge for the judges has been to whittle the entries down to those which addressed the question - what does the Fourth Industrial Revolution mean for you? - in the most insightful way. 900 words is not many with which to get across complex and intricate ideas, so essays which chose concrete topics and worked towards some kind of resolution caught our attention.

Here are the five shortlisted entries:

The Fourth Industrial Revolution & the refugee crisis looks at how new technologies are not only helping those hit by conflict and crisis, but also through shifting employment markets creating conflict. It uses strong images, case studies and video to put its points across, and proposes solutions:

The Fourth Industrial Revolution and the future of ports looks at how port cities need to change their thinking from that of a node on a linear chain to part of a circular network. "Circular thinking" is a prerequesite for sustainability, a key concept for ports and the cities that host them.

What does the Fourth Industrial Revolution mean for our Jobs? is written by a Candian millennial developing apps for the Industrial Internet of Things (IoT). Brett Lewis celebrates the flexibility and adaptability of Fourth Industrial Revolution technologies that allows him to work from a small town on Canada's eastern coast while servicing a global market.

Why it's wrong to fear the Fourth Industrial Revolution is a thoughtful call for a shift in human consciousness. The Fourth Industrial Revolution will inevitably shift the employment market away from what we currently think of as work, while at the same time increase abundance. There are two challenges here. One of distribution - everyone should have enough. The other is mindset - why is it that we believe that only those who work have meaning?

What the Fourth Industrial Revolution will do for Africa looks at how the new combination of technologies and platforms will revolutionise the continent, from productivity, education, trade and investment, entrepreneurialism, to governance and transparency. Charisma D. Kakuru emphasises the importance of youth for Africa's future, participation and closing the gender gap.

Thank you to all who took the time to write, and to read the essays.

The winner of the Davos 2016 essay competition will receive a signed copy of Professor Klaus Schwab's book The Fourth Industrial Revolution, and will be announced on Monday January 19.

What does this change mean to you? Can you provide a concrete example of how the Fourth Industrial Revolution will play out in your community, your industry, or even in your family? What should we do to manage its risks and reap its rewards?

—Essay Contest: What does the fourth industrial revolution mean to you

We propose a $100 million impact investment fund for humanitarian technology and innovation, as well as humanitarian impact bonds for the refugee crisis.

—The fourth industrial revolution & the refugee crisis, Dave Levin

When adopting circular thinking, waste becomes equal to value, while depositing waste, eroding the earth’s natural resources and degrading assets become equivalent to loss.

—The Fourth Industrial Revolution and the future of ports, Maurice Jansen

The success of IoT innovations and the industry as a whole will come down to one, major factor: human integration. Will we fully embrace this new technology at our disposal and use it to our advantage?

—What does the Fourth Industrial Revolution mean for our jobs? Brett Lewis

Questioning restriction-based economies will reveal the true freedom that an access-based economy will bring.

—Why it's wrong to fear the Fourth industrial Revolution, by Kei Pritsker

Recognition of the significant asset that young people represent, and the fact that our future is tied to our development, are essential ingredients for economic and social stability both today and tomorrow.

—What the Fourth industrial Revolution will do for Africa, by Charisma D. Kukuru


Written by

Michael Hanley, Head of Digital Communications, Member of the Executive Committee, World Economic Forum Geneva

The views expressed in this article are those of the author alone and not the World Economic Forum.

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