Political Effects of Industrial Revolution:
As a consequence of Industrial Revolution, new social and financial problems cropped up, and greater administrative efforts were made in European states to solve them. For example, when the British government focused its attention on the cruelties inflicted upon child labor, it enacted laws in order to improve the condition of workers and reduce working hours. During the 19th century, more than forty Factory Acts were enacted in England only which made specific provisions for the fixation of working hours, minimum wages, and other things. Noted economists, such as Adam Smith and David Ricardo opposed the intervention of government in industrial matters; even then, governmental interference in industrial matters increased. Since the latter half of the 19th century, the state has been interfering in every branch of industrial organization.
Till the middle of the 18th century, only landlords dominated the British Parliament. The new class generated by the Industrial Revolution did not tolerate the predominance of landlords in politics as well as in the Parliament. Consequently, people started raising the demand that the right of sending representatives to parliament should also be granted to the new cities. It is noteworthy that the industrial centers which developed with the factory system did not have representation in the British Parliament. In the beginning, landlords opposed the demand raised by the middle class for parliamentary reforms. But the demand for parliamentary reforms became too intense to disregard. A lot of parliamentary reforms were carried out in the 19th century in England. In 1867, the government had to sanction voting rights to the urban workers and in 1884, to the rural workers. In this way, the landlords were divested of their political power under the influence of the classes which had been generated by the Industrial Revolution. Thus democracy developed in England. Noted historian Eincer maintains that the parliamentary reforms carried out in England in the 19th century were occasioned by Industrial Revolution.
Industrial Revolution fostered the tendency of establishing colonies or holding political control over underdeveloped countries. A few countries such as England, France, Holland, and Belgium extended their respective colonial empires in the 19th century and colonial and commercial competition started in the states of Europe. But Germany and Italy lagged behind in that race because they emerged, as national powers in the international arena after 1870. Like other European countries, Germany and Italy too wanted to establish their colonial empires. Therefore, it was quite natural for both countries to come into a clash with other countries. In the last quarter of the 19th century, the imperialistic avarice aggravated into a frenzy. In these circumstances, international tension increased which created circumstances that were responsible for World War I.