The Ideology of Liberalism - Essay Example

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This essay mainly focuses on the historical events from the eighteenth century and the Industrial Revolution, that led to the birth of the ideologies, such as Liberalism and Socialism. These essay covers terminology of these ideologies and it's tenets.

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The Ideology of Liberalism
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Running head: Industrialism and Ideologies Industrialism and Ideologies Institution:
Industrialism and Ideologies.
The Industrial Revolution of the eighteenth century brought about momentous changes in all aspects of life in England and Europe. The transition from a rural to an industrial economy, rapid urbanization, and the factory system, resulted in a transformed societal structure. The most significant social change due to industrialism was, arguably, the emergence of a new middle class, who demanded a voice in the existing economic and political structure. While industrialism brought about prosperity, the disparity between the economic classes widened considerably, and called for reforms. These societal and economic factors led to the birth of the ideologies of Liberalism and Socialism.
Industrialism witnessed the dilution of the absolute power of the monarchy and the old aristocracy. The middle class, comprised of newly prosperous manufacturers, merchants and bankers, and professionals, used their economic strength to demand a greater role in the political structure. The pursuit of wealth was socially acceptable to this class, and the values of thrift, individualism, responsibility, and family morals were central to middle-class thought. The legitimacy of power passed from the monarchy to the legislatures, with the ideology of Liberalism enshrining the sovereignty of the people, and the rights of the individual. The goal of liberalism was to establish equality in the eyes of the law. The tenets of early Liberalism included the belief in meritocracy, as opposed to inherited privilege, the guarantee of property and contract rights, the enshrinement of the Bill of Rights, and the rejection of state interference in the economy: a laissez-faire policy. In its simplest form, Liberalism connoted individual freedom and limited government control. The political demands of Liberalism were universal male suffrage, secret ballot, pay and the removal of property qualifications for members of Parliament, annual elections, and equal electoral districts. (Miller, webpage). The introduction of the Reform Bill in 1832 witnessed the introduction of liberalism in England.(
The ideology of Socialism also had its roots in the rise of industrialism. The rise of the middle-class to economic and political prominence, and the unfettered pursuit of profit, widened the social and economic divide between the working classes and the new bourgeoisie. The factory system resulted in the exploitation of the working classes. Low wages, arbitrary terms of employment, long working hours (many factories functioned seven days a week, with two daily 12-hour shifts), polluted, cramped, ill-ventilated and hazardous work environments, and unsanitary living conditions were the norm during the early period of the Industrial Revolution. The unpredictable ‘burst and boom’ economic cycles of the new economy resulted in sudden unemployment and poverty. Socialism emerged as a call for reforms which would usher in “equality, cooperation, democracy, and shared prosperity” (Brians, 1998). Socialism gave the impetus for the implementation of reforms through such legislation as the Factory Acts of the 1830s, which limited the working hours of children, and the Mines Act of 1842, which regulated working conditions of women and children (Suffolk Community College, Course Readings).
Romanticism, which emphasized the search for direct communication with nature, and the concept of humans as unique individuals, is another ideology which can trace its origins to the reaction of intellectuals to the materialism and mechanization of Industrialism, and to the tenets of Liberalism. The new, wealthy, middle-class indulged in individual taste in art, creating a free market for painters and writers. The rise of Industrialism fostered many social, economic and political changes, which may be considered the foundations of present-day society. The ideologies engendered by the Industrial Revolution continue to influence the principles which govern politics and society in the twenty-first century.
Brians, Paul. (1998). Introduction to 19th-Century Socialism. Washington State University.
Retrieved on 2 April 2009 from
Brians, Paul. (1998). Romanticism. Washington State University.
Retrieved on 2 April 2009 from
Miller, Debra. Charlotte County Day School. The Three Main “Isms” of the 19th Century Community College. HS-12 Course Readings. The Liberal Revolution.
Retrieved on 2 April 2009 from Read More
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