In 1913, the vacuum cleaner became available, in 1916 it was the washing machine, in 1918 it was the refrigerator, in 1947 the freezer, and in 1973 the microwave was on the market. All of these technologies had an impact on home life, but none had a stronger impact than running water.
"We often forget that running water is a century-old innovation in North America, and it is even more recent in Europe. Of all innovations, it's the one with the most important impact," says Cardia.
In 1890, 25 percent of American households had running water and eight percent had electricity. In 1950, 83 percent had running water and 94% had electricity. According to Cardia, in 1900, a woman spent 58 hours per week on household chores. In 1975, it was 18 hours.
The women's liberation movement was not driven primarily by celebrity authors and speakers or popular writers. The changes in the role of women were primarily caused by automation of housework combined with automation of industry. The reduced need for manual labor at home and the reduced need for more muscular labor in the workplace freed up women to enter a workforce where muscle is now less valued.
I suspect the communications revolution is causing another big change in society. People are communicating thru Facebook, Twitter, cell phone text messaging, blogs, email, and other methods of relating that reduce the need for physical proximity and allow people to seek out like minds. I expect much more sorting where people will spend more of their time with more compatible and similar personalities. I also expect less time spent with others in person since the most compatible people you find will tend to be people who you know online. People who have rarer personalities and rarer interests especially gain from the web as a tool to find like minds.
The development of the internet, like the development of cable TV, increases the number of channels of interest and therefore enables the development of smaller niches of interest. So it seems reasonable to expect greater fragmentation of society into lots of smaller groups based on common interests.