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Thread: The Difference of Living During the 19th Centuary

  1. #1 The Difference of Living During the 19th Centuary 
    Forum Freshman IAlexN's Avatar
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    Hello,

    With disregard to the advance in technology; what do you think are some major differences with living nowadays compared to living during the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century.

    I've noticed that most people seem to focus on the quick advance in technology when comparing our society with the past one. However, are the any more or less obvious differences with the 19th century (ignoring the technology) which would have affected people at the time?


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    Medical science (you might call it technology) has undergone a tremendous change since that time. Some examples - antibiotics, polio vaccine, insulin.


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    Forum Isotope Bunbury's Avatar
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    Assuming you are referring to developed countries, and disregarding the enabling role of technology, you might consider that one of the bigger changes has occurred in political attitudes. Despite ups and downs, the political norm has trended towards social liberalism, an understanding that individual freedom and social justice are not incompatible.

    The prior 19th century attitude essentially assumed anyone worthy enough would elevate him/herself through enterprise, free trade and the grace of God by their bootstraps. The shoeless masses wondered how they could obtain said elevational devices, and often turned to thievery while miserably accepting that in some way their poverty must be their own fault. Poverty would be alleviated by the generosity of individuals, but to no one's surprise the paternalistic benevolence of classical liberalism did not make the poor go away. This led gradually to social liberalism in which the generosity of individuals is supplemented to varying degrees by the generosity of a more or less paternalistic state, with one hand doling out cash and kind to the less fortunate while the other hand digs ever deeper into the pockets of the more fortunate. Whether and how much you can tolerate the state's hand rummaging in your pocket is what politics is all about today.
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    Forum Radioactive Isotope skeptic's Avatar
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    You cannot exclude technology.

    Social mores and general way of life are so enormously influenced by technology that they must be considered togehter.

    For example : One of the big changes in the past 50 years is the sexual revolution, which has totally altered our views on pre-marital sex and on marriage itself, and this is a result of the invention of the contraceptive pill. Women who take that pill no longer live in fear of pregnancy, which changes everything.

    As the previous post mentioned, medical science has changed life span, child mortality, and removed the fear of infectious diseases. This has far reaching consequences in terms of social change.
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    One major difference between then and now is the use of war as an instrument of foreign policy. Wars like the Spanish-American, Russo-Japanese, WWI, and WWII are no longer considered as a reasonable part of foreign policy among developed nations today.
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    Participation in entertainment.

    During the 19th century most people knew how to play instruments, sing, tell tales or in some other way participate in community and group functions--we knew how to entertain ourselves.

    Today few people seem able to do any of these, often because we've become passive recipients of entertainment recorded to some media (TV, radio).

    The advent of youtube and other connected media might be reversing that trend.
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    One major difference between then and now is the use of war as an instrument of foreign policy. Wars like the Spanish-American, Russo-Japanese, WWI, and WWII are no longer considered as a reasonable part of foreign policy among developed nations today.
    mathman; Seems to me there were a lot more conflicts and/or wars during the 19th Century than in the 20th and for a lot of senseless reasons. This give you a listing by decade;

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/19th_century


    IAlexN; An interesting question, one I once asked my Grandfather born in 1885 (HIS answer, "oh so much simpler"). People tend to keep themselves in the time frames of their times in life, giving the phrase 'Ignorance is bliss' (you can't miss, what you don't know about). What people thought, felt and actually was has always been better than before, no matter how bad that may seem to young folks today.

    With disregard to the advance in technology; what do you think are some major differences with living nowadays compared to living during the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century.
    If you take out the technology of ANY period, the 19th Century on to today's, the differences in each period have been speed in accomplishments. Where my grandfather, really did walk 5 miles to school each day or maybe rode his horse, my Dad could drive a car, horse or walk the three miles and I in the 40's 50's had all kinds of choices, including walking the two miles.

    Until the 1940's, most ladies were mothers and/or wives by trade. Ladies were brought up with dolls, helping Moms with almost the sole desire to be mothers and wife's. During WWII in the US, most women worked building the needs of their husbands/boyfriend fighting in war, tending farms (where a good share of people still lived) or producing the products and services, they all were getting use to.

    Staying away, from technology the biggest differences today from in my childhood, from the history I've read, or my grandfathers answer which is/was IMO true, is the 'can do' attitudes people of every demographic have increasingly embraced. This probably does all stem from technology and science, or the access to what all exist in the world, even the daily news from most any country on the Earth, on TV.
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    Forum Cosmic Wizard icewendigo's Avatar
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    In the early 19th century slavery was still formal in the US, Women did not have a right to vote in elections as far as I know, many countries still had the (barbaric) practice of capital punishment.
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    Forum Freshman Spaceman's Avatar
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    I cannot came up with something, Only technologies. The technologies made a big change, So the diffrens is mostly technologies.

    But it may also have been for other things too
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    Forum Professor jrmonroe's Avatar
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    IMO...

    Generally, there were more personal choices and opportunities and fewer "safety nets".

    Expansionism -- Today, every square inch of every land mass on the planet is owned; there no longer exists any "open country" which someone might inhabit, establish and own without payment. The 1800s in America saw homesteading and other free "bootstrapping"-type of opportunities (eg, indentured servitude) for the poor, uneducated or unestablished.

    Gender shifts-- During the 1800s, growing employment opportunities (local mills, factories, etc) increasingly lured men away from their families during the day (or a week at a time), causing women to bear more of the responsibilities of daily life for the family and forcing men into less important domestic roles. Accordingly, women began receiving more recognition, began to gain importance in society, began to receive formal educations, began working in new employment positions, began publicly speaking out about slavery, suffrage, abolitionism, etc, began writing books and lecturing on a variety of subjects, etc. Classically, by the 1950s, men were relegated at home to mowing the lawn, killing spiders, taking out the trash, BBQing, and telling sons about the birds and the bees.

    Romantic friendships -- During the 1800s, many western societies considered it common and unremarkable that same-gender adults would have romantic friendships, which had nothing to do with sexuality or "romance" as we know it today, but more along the lines of being sentimental and emotional. For men in modern times, this might fit the definition of a "man-crush". When Lord Nelson lay dying at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805, he asked his subordinate officer and friend Hardy to kiss him, which he did on Nelson's cheek as a simple act of love. Abraham Lincoln and Joshua Speed apparently had such a relationship. Men idolized Teddy Roosevelt, and they signed up to join his Rough Riders. Some men who received rejection letters from him actually cried.

    Social Security -- The American federal government instituted the Social Security Act in 1935. Prior to that, elderly and disabled people lived on whatever means they had made for themselves or with their grown children or by the graces of churches and other charitable organizations.

    Unions -- The formation of unions began in the 1800s, but the rights of workers did not become substantial until the 1900s. This meant that employers could treat their workers as they pleased (a la Ebenezer Scrooge's treatment of Bob Cratchit). Captains of merchant vessels were considered "the law" at sea, and they could severely punish crew members for insubordination, suspicion of theft, etc, and they could withhold wages with little recourse available to those wronged.

    Bankruptcy -- Bankruptcy originally began as a quasi-criminal proceeding brought only by creditors against the offender who couldn't pay bills. The US established voluntary bankruptcy in 1841, allowing a person to declare bankruptcy and to seek reorganization and protection.

    Mental illness and addictions -- The view and treatment of the mentally ill and addicts has changed dramatically since the 1800s. For example, alcoholism was looked upon as merely the poor judgment of "drinking too much", and people were admonished to drink less. During the 1800s, mental illness was viewed as an organic physical phenomenon. Mental illness did not receive much attention, so little formal descriptions (or treatments) existed for such illnesses. People with mild illnesses generally remained at home, but people with more serious illnesses often ran afoul of the law and ended up in prison or were warehoused in the growing number of insane asylums.

    Health -- Major differences existed between today and then regarding health, and not just due to lack of medical treatment. Diseases and their causes were not well understood. Life was physically more strenuous, more people toiled against Nature's elements, whether it was droughts for farmers, storms at sea, etc. The rate of injury and death from the use of horses was much higher than today's use of cars and machinery due to runaway horses, sometimes pulling runaway carriages or wagons, kicking, biting, etc.

    Children's Rights -- Until the 20th Century, children had no legal right to a relationship with their parents or a "proper home". Children of parents killed or disabled had no legal recourse and were left to the charity of relatives, friends, neighbors or others. Children had no right to legal representation. Street urchins (a la Oliver Twist) were common; orphanages were miserable, and charitable organizations were few and far between. Parents had legal rights to children, but not vice versa. The term "bastard" had a real meaning and substantial consequences. The crime of "seduction" (the luring of a child away from home) was not a crime against the child or even the parents, but against the father alone who had lost the right to the services or earnings of that child.
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  12. #11  
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    Definitely the advances in medicine. On mental illnesses...some mental illnesses are still newly being identified. I believe OCD wasn't defined until the 80's.
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