CBSE NCERT Class X (10th) | Social Studies | History

Chapter - 6 Work, Life and Leisure


The City of London

After the Industrial revolution, London’s population increased from 6,75,000 in 1750 to about 4 million in 1880. The city gradually underwent urbanisation as people migrated to it for work. Urbanisation refers to the development of a city or town.
People sought work in the London dockyard, or in industries dealing in clothing and footwear, wood and furniture, printing and stationery.

During this period, the workforce comprised of men, women and children. It was only after the passing of the Compulsory Elementary Education Act that children were kept out of industrial work.

The growing population of London caused concern for three groups of people i.e. The police, The philanthropists and The industrialists. Philanthropists are people who work for social upliftment and charity, donating time and money for the purpose. In the late 18th century, many women worked in factories but technological developments soon reduced the requirement for a vast labour force and many women lost their jobs.

The promise of work continued to attract more people to the city, causing a severe housing shortage. Most of the migrant workers lived in tenements. Three major concerns that led to better housing for the poor were: the threat to public health, the possibility of fire hazards and fear of social disorder.

The London Underground railway partially solved the problem by carrying approximately ten thousand passengers, daily, to and from the city. However, the Underground had its critics who felt it added to the mess and unhealthiness of the city. Several houses had been destroyed to make way for its construction. This led to a massive displacement of London’s poor.

Social change and Politics in the City

Industrialisation brought many people to the city in search of work and a better life. The life in the city encouraged a spirit of individualism. The term Individualism refers to a theory that promotes the liberty, rights or independent action of the individual, rather than of the community.

However, individualism did not guarantee equal rights to both men and women. Political movements such as Chartism and the 10 hour movement focussed on the rights of men. It was only after the women suffrages movement that women gained the right to vote and the right to own property after marriage.

The family became a smaller and people had more time for leisure. The rich spent their free time in pleasure gardens, which had sports, entertainment and refreshments. The state built libraries, art galleries and museums to educate, entertain and to instil a sense of pride, for their heritage, in the common people.

Before the 20th century, the working classes frequented music halls, but that changed with the onset of cinema, which catered to mixed audiences. Groups of people were drawn into political causes driven by poverty and poor living conditions. For instance, the Bloody Sunday riot of 1887 and the 12 day dockyard workers strike.

State authorities tried to keep rebellion in check and also worked on enhancing the beauty of urban areas. Haussmanisation refers to the forcible reconstruction of cities to enhance their beauty and impose order. The reconstruction displaced approximately 350,000 people from the centre of Paris.

Initially, people criticised Haussmann's designs as boring. However, this criticism soon turned to pride as Paris became the hub of many new architectural, social and intellectual developments influencing other parts of the world.  

The City of Bombay

In the 17th century, Bombay was a group of seven islands under Portuguese control.

It was handed over to the British in 1661, after the Portuguese princess, Catherine of Braganza, married Britain’s King Charles II. Bombay soon became the base and principal western port of the British East India Company.

In the 19th century, Bombay became a chief port for trade in cotton and opium and thus attracted communities of traders and merchants. Migrant workers were drawn to the city to the newly established sugar and textile mills. Bombay was at the junction head of two major railways. This made it easy for people to migrate to the city.

The influx of people soon created a crisis of housing space and water supply. While the richer Parsi, Muslim and uppercaste traders and industrialists of Bombay lived in sprawling spacious bungalows. The majority of the working population lived in the thickly populated chawls of Bombay.

Life in the city was often authentically captured by the Bombay Film Industry. Authorities tried to solve the space crunch caused by large scale migration by reclaiming land from the sea.

The earliest project began in seventeen eighty four, when William Hornby, the Bombay governor, approved the building of the great sea wall which prevented the flooding of the low-lying areas of Bombay. A good example of this reclamation activity is the famous Marine Drive.

Cities and the Challenges of the Environment

Most cities grew and developed at the expense to the environment. Natural features were cleared to make space for factories, houses, business, schools, etc.

The development of industrial factories also had its harmful effects on the environment. The black emission from the factories was and still is a major source of air pollution. Urban development led to air, water and noise pollution, which became a regular feature of urban life.

Cities such as Leeds, Bradford and Manchester became covered with thick black fog or smog due to release of smoke from factory chimneys throughout the day. This smog posed serious health and environmental problems. Laws like the Smoke Abatement Acts were unsuccessful in controlling the pollution.

Although people campaigned for cleaner air, businesses were unwilling to invest in technology that would improve their machines and reduce pollution. Calcutta had thick fog from its marshes mixed with smoke emanating from household fuel of burnt dung and wood that was used as fuel in daily lives. In 1863, Calcutta became the first Indian city to get smoke nuisance legislation.

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