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Industrial Revolution to Information age back to Entrepreneurship

30 Mar 2013 | Posted Under Future

Before the Industrial Revolution people learned a trade. That meant that they worked as apprentices and learned how to make shoes or build houses or forge instruments out of iron. Each worker learned through their trade to create something from start to finish.

When the Industrial Revolution arose, things changed dramatically. In an effort to fabricate more quickly, efficiently and affordably, people were no longer seen as creators. Industrialists started to fractionalize activities and divide people into assembly line cogs. In factories, workers suddenly spent hours each day doing repetitive jobs without a seeming purpose and minus their previous sense of product completion. In this new system, the idea of actually "creating" something from start to finish was lost. Also lost was the satisfaction that comes from bringing something from one's imagination to materialization.

Would you believe that this major transition in work created malaise and depression among the working class? It did! People weren't accustomed to the lack of purpose in their previously "meaningful" work lives. (They probably didn't make the connection themselves as to why, but a few social psychologists did the observing and diagnosing. As a side note, the fact that train travel and other forms of public transportation made time appear to move more quickly also added to many people's sense of disorientation and depression.)

The added speed with which things got fabricated also contributed to the workers' sense of disorientation in a newly created commercial environment. I suppose the bottom line was: CHANGE.  Most people feel either comfortable or "safe" when their environment remains static. Even if it's not optimal, people tend to favor the familiar. They feel safe when their environment appears to be controlled, outcomes anticipated and sameness marks their future.

After the Industrial Revolution, Corporate America came into effect. Corporations took the same idea of division of labor but moved it from physical work to mental or administrative chores. We continue to manufacture less goods in the
US. The general concept of a single-themed job or a slice of activity in the overall corporation maintained that same narrowly-defined method of thinking and behavior.

Now that our economy has moved even the paper jobs (or computer jobs) overseas and corporate
America has declined in its provision of supplying many Americans with jobs, we're nearly back to square one before the Industrial Revolution appeared. The working populace is back to having to think as entrepreneurs, solopreneurs, etc. We cannot rely on other departments and other experts within our former corporate environments to do other jobs. We are suddenly the "generalists" again. In some odd sense, we're like the immigrants who just arrived here in the US. We're forced to launch our businesses from scratch with very little available in the way of support or financial back-up. The "provider" we knew as our corporate employer is no longer as common a fixture in working class America.

People are again disoriented, fearful, depressed, and confused. The overall effect of "change in the marketplace" has upset the equilibrium - only this time, it's in reverse! Each era presents its own variations, but you can surely pick up some of the similarities. Humans fear change and would rather keep doing the same thing than have their mental system upset and be required to learn anew and adapt.

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What are your thoughts? I would love to hear from you.

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