Second industrial revolution: features and inventions

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

The second stage of the Industrial Revolution spread through several countries and resulted in the emergence of major 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 no such division of stages of the Industrial Revolution, however it is emphasized that there was a second moment of accelerated production growth from technological and scientific advances.

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

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

Characteristics of the Second Industrial Revolution

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 in various countries and led to multiple changes worldwide.
  • Scientific studies and research began to be applied in industries.
  • Significant advances emerged in the automotive and communications area.
  • Important scientific advances such as Darwin’s Theory and various medical advances were made.
  • New sources of energy began to be used from electricity, gas and petroleum products.
  • It began to make use of resources and alloys such as steel, coal or aluminum.
  • The 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 rivaled to have greater control of the markets, for example, Germany, the United States and Japan.

Causes and consequences of the Second Industrial Revolution

The main causes and consequences of the Second Industrial Revolution are presented below.

Causes of the Second Industrial Revolution

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, and it was accompanied by a decreasing mortality rate due to the control of epidemics and various diseases.

Agrarian revolution

Although agricultural production increased, many farmers moved to large cities in search of better jobs and quality of life, which generated greater unemployment and the reorganization of cities.


As new sources of energy were discovered and their utility, such as oil, gas and electricity, new types of industries also emerged. Even the chemical industry was 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 dissatisfaction of the workers, the concept of capitalism took hold and, consequently, initiated various struggles of a social and labor nature.

Consolidation of the bourgeois class

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

Consequences of the Second Industrial Revolution

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 are presented below.

Social order

There was an important demographic growth, the farmers moved to the big cities and the cities grew, especially those where there was a greater possibility of getting a job, hence talking about a social exodus.

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

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

Economic order

A new industrial order was established that implemented serial production, hence the industrial processes were faster and at a lower cost than the labor force, thus leading to the dismissal of a large number of employees. Series production generated the increase in economic gains.

Thus was born capitalism, an economic system that allowed the creation of new companies, led to 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 new industrialized systems, commercial mechanisms, the new social order and workers’ rights.

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 work and living conditions also appeared.

Inventions and advances of the Second Industrial Revolution

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 research, new energy sources were found that led to significant development in various areas. That is how gas, oil and electricity began to be used.

In the area of ‚Äč‚Äčelectricity stand out the inventors Nikola Tesla and Thomas Alva Edison, the latter created the electric bulb. Also with the discovery of oil and its derivatives, combustion engines were created, among the researchers highlighted the German engineer Rudolf Diesel.

Advances and technological inventions

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

As for the 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 without sound were transmitted), and the radio stand out.

Advances and scientific 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.

Scientists also 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.