How Did the Spinning Jenny Change Society?


Quick Answer

The spinning jenny changed the society of England, and eventually others across the world, by expediting production of textile products, which in turn expedited output volume. The spinning jenny essentially turned textile production from a domestic activity and specialized craft into a commercial operation. The increased output of textiles boosted economic output and trade in England, Europe and eventually the United States.

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Full Answer

Credit for invention of the spinning jenny goes to James Hargreaves, a weaver from the Lancaster region of England. Hargreaves allegedly conceived the concept for the spinning jenny after watching the spindle on his wife's spinning machine continue moving after falling over. Hargreaves realized single spinning wheels had sufficient power to move multiple spindles at once. Hargreaves constructed a wheel with multiple spindles, which multiplied production of threads. Spinners produced nearly ten times more threads with Hargreaves' model than previous machines.

The first spinning jenny machines came in standard domestic sizes. Women continued producing textiles at home, but eventually industrial-sized models arrived and outfitted textile factories. Factories needed fewer workers to operate the spinning jenny, cutting down on operational costs. Employing fewer workers in central locations reduced transportation costs of raw materials and gave factory management more oversight of workers' activities to ensure rapid production. More textiles translated to higher demand, and allowed for the creation of a greater variety of products.

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