Impacts of Deindustrialization

1741 words (7 pages) Essay in Sociology

08/02/20 Sociology Reference this

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 Deindustrialization brought forth the end of a booming factory industry in the United States and Countries abroad. The collapse of the industry led to the collapse of the economy in many regards forcing an entire labor force completely out of work. The collapse had a rippling effect on the cities that housed these factories and the residents also. One major influence on the collapse of the industry was the end of World War Two. Deindustrialization and its effects created an everlasting impact on the urban society people have come to know today.

 Deindustrialization’s arrival was rooted in the context surrounding the time. Typically, when an industry like the factory industry takes as big a hit as they did, the industry is tangled in global affairs. The post-World War Two era led to the decline of industry due to the falloff in demand for materials. Since the world was no longer in heated conflict, the overall need for supplies for war efforts was ended. Cities all across the United States were affected according to the text: “Chicago, Detroit, and St. Louis in the United States, Manchester in England, Barcelona in Spain, and countless other sites–are no longer centers of flourishing factories where thousands of people labor (Xianming, Chen, et al.).” The book notes the effect on thousands of people that are interestingly not only located in the United States but in cities abroad too. Putting all these people out of work had a dramatic effect on both the economy and the conditions of the urban centers in the cities.  There are cities mentioned here that we can look at today and see the continued effects of the initial decline of factory industry. Cities both in the United States and in countries outside America provide a context on the effects.

 Detroit is a city in the United States that was greatly affected by the decline of the factory industry. Detroit’s economy began to wither away during post-war times due to the lack of demand. That being said, the overall impact was not immediate and swift but more general and over time. According to the text, the city of Detroit was once a booming destination and place of opportunity: “By the early part of the twentieth century, thanks to the inventions and imaginations of figures such as Henry Ford, the factories of Detroit employed thousands of people, their machines humming with energy and their products selling across the world (Xianming, Chen et al.).” While these factories were booming, residents and workers relished in their ability to support themselves and their families despite the working conditions of certain factories. The success of these factories was short-lived in the long run, and overall the city is in a bad place as far as the present is concerned. Many of the residents were unable to find work due to the massive loss of labor and increased demand for jobs. The city has dealt with high-crime rates and issues pertaining to lack of funding including having to file for bankruptcy (Klinefelter, Quinn). These issues and others present the overarching issue with the dismantle of factory industry. Detroit was far from the only city affected by the shifting economy away from factory work. One thing NPR has noted is that fortunately the economy of Detroit seems to be on an uptick which could culminate into a booming city (Klinefelter, Quinn). The future of the city may look bright, but the economy must stay on an uptick in order for this to continue.

 The United States was not the only country affected by the collapse of the factory industry, but also major cities that were booming outside of this country. Cities in Europe were also affected by this lack of industry and the city’s economy affected entire countries like in Germany. In Germany, the consequences came into fold in many ways including income disparity, empty wasteland areas where factories once boomed, collapse in economic strength, etc. Gornig and Goebel attempted to look at the problems that Germany faced due to the aforementioned issues. The data they analyzed showed the severe effects of the separation the country experienced post-World War Two: “In 1989, the level of industrialization in East Germany was fifty percent higher than in West Germany (Gornig, Martin & Goebel, Jan).” This percentage represents a massive difference in the split economy on Germany. West Germany was barely competing or keeping up with the economic efforts being made in East Germany. This split in economic efforts greatly affected the country as a whole when it was finally reunited with itself. Furthermore, the consequences represent statistical issues still present in their economy today due to a second wave of deindustrialization brought on by the exponential growth of technology: “It is assumed that the computerization of the economy can affect employment in various ways. Employees whose jobs entail a large share of routine tasks can easily be replaced by computer (Gornig, Martin & Goebel, Jan).” This means that our economy today can experience a similar fallout the post-World War Two economy did but this time due to the advent of automation and technology.

 The aftereffects of deindustrialization led to the rise of popularity of other cities and also the rise of other industries. The textbook provides insight into the decline of population in once booming cities because of the lack of factory labor. The need to find new jobs in different locations became very apparent during post-World War Two times. Cities that contained factories could not easily bounce back due to the lack of a follow up industry. People in the United States relocated to several cities all over the nation in order to build new lives.      “Florida became a state where many people began to move, some of them those older men and women who had lost their jobs in cities such as Milwaukee and St. Louis, and who decided to retire to a warmer climate (Xianming, Chen, et al.).” The book notes that older people were able to move, and this was due to the money they were able to reserve over their years of labor. People just starting out in the factory industry did not have as many liberties as these older folk. Furthermore, people of lower socio-economic status really had no alternative and could not just pick up and move out of a city like more prosperous people. People of lower socio-economic status were forced to face the impact of the worse effects of deindustrialization.

 The group of people most harshly affected by the dismantling on factory industry was certainly those of lower socio-economic status who required the labor jobs for their survival and their families. People located in the urban city especially near the areas of the factories experienced many hardships post-industry. As the factories were abandoned, they began to decline in physical appearance and bring down the overall value of the areas around it. Once these areas were booming with employees and foot traffic creating industry revenue, but now became areas of dilapidation and potential crime. The factory jobs were directly rooted in the success and revenue of the city so when they went, so did the quality of life in the city.           “As the funds for local governments dried up, so, too, did the local services. Garbage services were temporarily suspended in various cities across the United States during the late 1970s (Xianming, Chen, et al.).” As one can clearly see, the effects of deindustrialization negatively influenced even the most routine local services. These losses of services led to the overall downturn of the inner city areas from all aspects—visual, living, etc. Furthermore, these losses locally created a ripple effect burdening the overall global economy. The world needed to shift to a new form of creating cyclic revenue better than the factory industry. 

 Another way in which the effects of deindustrialization had a profound impact on a global scale was through the push to create new markets across the world. The United States and other countries could no longer rely on the factory industry to build revenue and keep a functioning economy. So, it became obvious to global authorities that they must push the reaches of capitalism everywhere in order to produce a consumer-centered society. The push certainly had some disastrous effects as the need to create revenue overshadowed moral obligation and paranoia led to military combat. For example, the war in Vietnam perfectly encompasses the ruinous results of this push: “The war in Vietnam, from one angle, was about the effort of the West to prevent the spread of Communism. But from another angle it was about the effort by Western business to expand its reach across the globe and to create new markets… (Xianming, Chen, et al.).” As one can see the efforts were clearly misguided as the war did not lead to either aspect of success in regards to the intentions of the United States. Markets in the economy were rattled during the early stages of capitalistic expansion, but eventually settled into what we know now.

 Overall the disastrous effects of deindustrialization can be seen from many different angles even looking through the scope of the present. If one were to look locally, they could take a look at cities like Detroit and see both back then the days of prosperity and the present which is not as economically sound as it once was. Local economies in the United States were far from the only ones affected as the results of deindustrialization moved across Europe into places like Germany. Overall, the world must take a look into the effects of the loss of industry or any given market in order to combat the potentially catastrophic economic results.

Works Cited

  • Klinefelter, Quinn. “Detroit’s Big Comeback: Out of Bankruptcy, A Rebirth.” NPR, NPR, 28 Dec. 2018,
  • Gornig, Martin, Goebel, Jan. Deindustrialisation and the polarisation of household incomes: The example of urban agglomerations in Germany
  • Xianming, Chen, et al. Introduction to Urban Cities: How Place and Space Shape Human Existence. John Wiley & Sons Ltd, 2018.
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