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Industrial Revoltution

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The Industrial Revolution was a major shift of technological, socioeconomic, and cultural conditions in the 18th century. It began in Britain and spread throughout the world. During that time, an economy based on manual labour was replaced by one dominated by industry and the manufacture of machinery. It began with the mechanisation of the textile industries, the development of iron-making techniques and the increased use of refined coal. Trade expansion was enabled by the introduction of canals, improved roads and railways. The introduction of steam power (fuelled primarily by coal) and powered machinery (mainly in textile manufacturing) underpinned the dramatic increases in production capacity.[1] The development of all-metal machine tools in the first two decades of the 19th century facilitated the manufacture of more production machines for manufacturing in other industries.

The period of time covered by the Industrial Revolution varies with different historians. Eric Hobsbawm held that it 'broke out' in the 1780s and was not fully felt until the 1830s or 1840s,[2] while T.S. Ashton held that it occurred roughly between 1760 and 1830.[3]

The effects spread throughout Western Europe and North America during the 19th century, eventually affecting most of the world. The impact of this change on society was enormous. [4]

The first Industrial Revolution merged into the Second Industrial Revolution around 1850, when technological and economic progress gained momentum with the development of steam-powered ships, railways, and later in the nineteenth century with the internal combustion engine and electrical power generation. By 1920 innovator Henry Ford, father of the assembly line, stated, "There is but one rule for the industrialist, and that is: Make the highest quality goods possible at the lowest cost possible, paying the highest wages possible."

It has been argued that GDP per capita was much more stable and progressed at a much slower rate until the Industrial Revolution and the emergence of the modern capitalist economy, and that it has since increased rapidly in capitalist countries.[5]

Some twentieth century historians such as John Clapham and Nicholas Crafts have argued that the process of economic and social change took place gradually and the term revolution is not a true description of what took place. This is still a subject of debate amongst historians


The term Industrial Revolution applied to technological change was common in the 1830s. Louis-Auguste Blanqui in 1837 spoke of la rÐ"©volution industrielle. Friedrich Engels in The Condition of the Working Class in England in 1844 spoke of "an industrial revolution, a revolution which at the same time changed the whole of civil society".

In his book Keywords: A Vocabulary of Culture and Society, Raymond Williams states in the entry for Industry: The idea of a new social order based on major industrial change was clear in Southey and Owen, between 1811 and 1818, and was implicit as early as Blake in the early 1790s and Wordsworth at the turn of the century.

Credit for popularising the term may be given to Arnold Toynbee, whose lectures given in 1881 gave a detailed account of the process.


The causes of the Industrial Revolution were complex and remain a topic for debate, with some historians seeing the Revolution as an outgrowth of social and institutional changes brought by the end of feudalism in Britain after the English Civil War in the 17th century. As national border controls became more effective, the spread of disease was lessened, therefore preventing the epidemics common in previous times. The percentage of children who lived past infancy rose significantly, leading to a larger workforce. The Enclosure movement and the British Agricultural Revolution made food production more efficient and less labour-intensive, forcing the surplus population who could no longer find employment in agriculture into cottage industry, for example weaving, and in the longer term into the cities and the newly-developed factories. The colonial expansion of the 17th century with the accompanying development of international trade, creation of financial markets and accumulation of capital are also cited as factors, as is the scientific revolution of the 17th century.

Lewis Mumford has proposed that the Industrial Revolution had its origins in the early Middle Ages, much earlier than most estimates. He explains that the model for standardized mass production was the printing press and that "the archetypal model for the [industrial era] was the clock". He also cites the monastic emphasis on order and time-keeping, as well as the fact that Medieval cities had at their center a church with bell ringing at regular intervals as being necessary precursors to a greater synchronization necessary for later, more physical manifestations such as the steam engine.

Technological innovation protected by patents (by the Statute of Monopolies 1623) was also at the heart of it and the key enabling technology was the invention and improvement of the steam engine.[8]

The presence of a large domestic market should also be considered an important driver



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