Shaping of the modern world has occurred through numerous changes since the 1800’s. The purpose of this essay is to explore a few key differences between the periods of 1500-1800 and today’s modern world. It will provide a summary of Blainey’s (2000) work and outline the following , food production and diet, gender roles and finally beliefs and knowledge of the 1800’s. Focusing on how food was produced and what was eaten in the 1800’s, what was expected of women and men in their roles and where people of the 1800’s got their information and what they believed.
A comparison will parallel these feature with today’s modern society with the 1800’s as well as highlighting several key differences of these periods drawing attention to how substantial these changes have been in moulding how society is today. The argument presented will debate the importance these changes have had to today’s society. The majority of food produced in the 1800’s was farmed for personal consumption; additionally most food was locally sourced, as transportation was very limited.
One exception being transportation of salt, which was shipped around the world (Blainley, 2001). Later in that period when farmers became more skilled and agricultural practices improved, production increased and farmers had a surplus to sell or trade this was then transported by horse and cart to neighbouring towns and cities (Plummer, 2012). The diet of the bulk of individuals in the 1800’s consisted mainly of grain, in the form of porridge, bread etc. rom rye, barley, oats and wheat while in Asian rice was the staple of most meals. Beer was commonly brewed and drank by everyone rich and poor, young and old (Blainey, 2001). In comparison, our diet today as suggested by various health bodies involves, meat/protein, dairy, grain, vegetables and fruit, which is a cast differenve from the diet of the 1800’s. In addition to the variety we have today our access is vast, due to transportation and availability.
We receive and ship food from our ports multiple times a day from all over the world and have access to most of them through our local stores compared to the 1800’s were almost all food consumed was from local sources. Important also to note that alcohol of all kinds is restricted to adults only by law due to research regarding the affects and addictive properties. In the early stages of the 1800’s women and children were in charge of rural upkeep while men worked either on farms or in trade roles (Blainey, 2001).
Later as industry improved men’s roles became specialised while women’s roles did not vary substantially with many rural jobs became secondary to the importance of male roles (Henslin, Possamai & PossamaiInsedy, 2011). Woman had specialization in trades relating to fabric and childcare but there were seen as home duties and not as important as male roles. Today there are many roles that were once male dominated that are now equal in term of employment opportunities.
Although there are many that are now equal there are certain roles that are dominated by men and others by women. However, there is still a distinct inequality in pay in regards to men and women in almost all field. A role that has had very little change over time is the role of childcare and homemakers, still dominated by females although there has been some progression in this role it is very minor. Information and beliefs in the 1800’s was highly subject on religion and folk law or stories.
Dictionaries and encyclopaedia where produced but ere often fraught with opinion rather than fact and were not accessible to the public especially as many did not have formal education and where unable to read (Blainey, 2001). Priests and elders were often sought to solve problems to which prayer or folk law were enlisted, for example it was up to god whether they had a good harvest and it was the belief that god was punishing them for sins if they did not receive a good harvest. Today we have the luxury of access to an endless amount of resources for our information.
Although there are, many societies that still have strong religious beliefs they often incorporate factual knowledge into their beliefs, for example rather than god being responsible for the lack of harvest most understand the scientific concepts of growing and rain but still believe god created these processes. Most knowledge today comes from scientifically proven knowledge in comparison to the stories of 1800’s however, there are still tribal societies that hold strong beliefs in their ancestor’s stories.
Today’s modern society has increased longevity due to better health and medical standards including previously mentioned diet changes and food access. Famine seen in the 1800 as described by Blainey (2001) is near non-existent in first world countries and due to how accessible information is society is aware of the plights of third world countries and assistance is given where possible. This is a major improvement on the societies of the 1800’s who had to deal with famine within their own community and very little could be done.
Today the improvement in information access and education has improved society in many ways in regards to mental health, education for the majority and equality. There is still inequality in gender when it comes to pay but it is vastly improves from the 1800’s and we can hope to see more improvement in this arena as more information is shared and process by the masses that will affect change. This essay has touched on food production and diet, how narrow it was, and now how it is now a global exchange with such immense access to the majority of the world.
Gender roles were assess nd we concluded although major change has occurred the playing field is still being levelled. Finally we looked at the sources of information and how our views have changed from a strongly religious model to a now scientific source of knowledge. The argument stated that the changes made to create the modern society we live in today are for the better, health, information and equality have all improved since the 1800’s for the better. In conclusion, reflecting on what was the 1800’s indicates what massive progress has been made to create the global society we live in today.