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Industrial Revolution

Revolution, in the simplest terms, means a great change. The industrial revolution was a
process that started in the middle of the eighteenth century and introduced many changes
in agriculture, method and system of production of goods, transport, mining, and
economic policies. All these areas were connected, and changes in one resulted changes
in the other. Furthermore, these changes metamorphosed the social equations and
relations. The process is said to have begun in the middle of the eighteenth century in
England with the mechanization of textile production. However, many believe that this
was the culmination of many other processes that had begun almost two hundred years
ago. Later, the revolution also spread to other parts of Europe

Causes of the Industrial Revolution

All across England, the recent turn of the century has gone largely unnoticed. The vast
majority of the country's population lives in the countryside, completely isolated or in
small communities like Bedlington. The principal trades are growing grain or raising
sheep for wool, both of which require a lot of manual labour. Farming tools are common,
but machines are not; animals are raised, but not used extensively for cultivating the land.
Life in the countryside depends on nature in many ways: good weather in the summer
means a good crop, just as a long winter can mean hunger and discomfort. People rise
with the sun and go to bed when it gets dark.

The Cottage Industry

At the dawn of the eighteenth century, farming was the primary livelihood in England,
with at least 75% of the population making its living off the land. This meant that many
English families had very little to do during the winter months except sit around and
make careful use of the food and other supplies that they stored up during the rest of the
year. If the harvest had been smaller than usual or if any other unexpected losses had
come about, the winter could be a very long, cold, and hungry one. The cottage industry
was developed to take advantage of the farmers' free time and use it to produce quality
textiles for a reasonable price.

To begin the process, a cloth merchant from the city needed enough money to travel into
the countryside and purchase a load of wool from a sheep farm. He would then distribute
the raw materials among several farming households to be made into cloth (Cottage
Industry). The preparation of the wool was a task in which the whole family took part.
The task of transforming raw wool into cloth could be done entirely by one household, or
split between two or more (ie. spinning in one home, weaving in another). The merchant
would return at regular intervals over the season to pick up the finished cloth, which he
then brought back to the city to sell or export, and to drop of a new load of wool to be

The cottage industry proved to be profitable for the urban merchants, since they could
sell the finished cloth for far more than they paid the farmers to make it. The cottage
industry helped to prepare the country for the Industrial Revolution by boosting the
English economy through the increase of trade that occurred as the country became well-
known overseas for its high-quality and low-cost exports. Previously, tradesmen had
done all the manufacturing themselves, so the idea of subcontracting was new and
appealing. The cottage industry was also a good source of auxiliary funds for the rural
people. However, many farming families came to depend on the enterprise; thus, when
industrialization and the Agricultural Revolution reduced the need for farm workers,
many were forced to leave their homes and move to the city.

Although serfdom in England had disappeared by the end of the seventeenth century,
most farms were established on "common land" which local farmers typically leased
from a wealthy proprietor who owned large areas of land in a district. There were,
however, rules which prevented a landlord from expelling a tenant without a reasonable
cause, and so farms could be passed down through a peasant family for generations.
Traditionally, the land was divided into long narrow strips which grew smaller as the land
was split into more parts for each succeeding generation. When new methods of
agriculture began to be developed, it became clear that they would be more efficient with
larger plots of land. Enclosure is defined as "the process of inclosing (with fences,
ditches, hedges, or other barriers) land formerly subject to common rights. This meant
that the land that peasants had been cultivating on their own was returned to the control
of the landowners and redistributed. Scavenging on someone else's land became illegal,
and small farmers (who had no political influence and were generally given the poorer
plots) often lost access to wood and water. Although the process was not standardized
until the General Enclosure Act of 1801 (Inclosure), many private acts had been passed
since the 1750's and enclosure had been common for well over a century before. The
urbanization of the English population was largely fueled by dispossessed peasants who
moved to the city in the hopes of finding new work.

Why was Britain First?

Why was Britain the first country to industrialize? This change, which occurred between
1750 and 1830, happened because conditions were perfect in Britain for the Industrial
Revolution. Having used wood for heat instead of coal, Britain was left with large
deposits of coal remaining to fuel the new ideas. Any raw supplies Britain itself did not
have could be provided by its many colonies. These colonies also provided captive
markets for the abundance of new goods provided by the industrial revolution. The
product was cotton. Cotton was a simple, cheap, and easily made product that everyone
could use. So, between 1796 and 1830 cotton production tripled. The new production was
easily transported, because there remained an old commercial fleet.

The Product and Market were the simple requirements, and many countries had them.
What set Britain apart from the others; however, were three unique social elements:
education, "modern" work attitudes, and a "modern" government. Great Britain had a
larger educated workforce to run the machines and create manuals. The Enlightenment
not only meant a larger educated population but also more modern views on work. The
population in Great Britain was ready to move out of the country and to the city to work.
Britain also had the large middle class and flexible mercantile class necessary. English
society, unlike many others, was not opposed to "new money," and as such was eager to
accept the new wealthy and their new ideas (Industrial Revolution: The Industrial
Revolution in Great Britain). Lastly, Britain's government, a long-time constitutional
monarchy, was just right for the situation.

Many of these elements were achieved because of the insularity of England. This meant
that the industrial development was rarely interrupted by war. This combination of
necessary elements led to the early mechanization of Britain. Between 1838 and 1850
Britain's rail lines went from 540 to 6621 track kilometers; rail lines were considered the
best way to monitor a country's industrialization. The elements needed or preferred for
the Industrial Revolution can be summarized as follows:

• modern work attitudes

• education
• a product
• transportation for the product
• large market
• "modern" government
• money

Financial Situations (write shortly)

What were the financial situations necessary to support the Industrial Revolution?

• A new banking system

In Britain, expansion had led to new "private banking," a new money economy,
and trading organizations such as the Hanseatic League. Modern credit facilities
also appeared, such as the state bank, the bourse, the promissory note, and other
new media of exchange. This created economic stimulus which in turn gave the
people more money to spend (Commercial Revolution).

• A stable environment

The steady economic systems present under the new national monarchies created
a reliable atmosphere for the new Revolution. The most notable of these
governments were in Portugal, Spain, the Netherlands, and England (Commercial

• A large amount of capital for investment

From the New World had come gold and silver, which in less than a century more
than doubled European prices and stimulated economic activity, which in turn
gave the wealthy more money to spend on new ideas (Commercial Revolution).
• Capitalism

The capitalism of Adam Smith, or the "invisible hand," was another important
new economic system and gave the people a desire to further the industrialization
and gain money. The competition created a boom in economic expansion
(Commercial Revolution).

New outputs of the Industrial Revolution

1. Textile industry

2. Coal mining
3. Manufacturing of iron and steel


Effects of Industrial Revolution

The industrial societies used machines that were able to make use of energy to do work.
Earlier, this work had to be done by humans or animals. The fact that burning coal could
replace the need for human labor deeply altered human and environmental history.

Social Effect
The working conditions in mines were horrible, to say the least. Furthermore, women and
children were employed as they could be paid lower wages than adult male workers.
Child laborers possessed another advantage - they could easily crawl through the narrow
passages in mines. The situation in factories was not very different. The workers could
not bargain for better conditions and payments, as there was an abundant supply of
workers available in the form of displaced peasants and farmers. If one would protest, he
would be fired - and there was always someone else ready to replace him. Also, the
capitalists were becoming richer by the day. Using their wealth, they were influencing the
policies and laws of the government. This influence was naturally harmful to the labor
class. This led to the organization of labor unions, and subsequently to the development
of the concept of socialism. The migration of such a huge population to cities resulted in
the overcrowding of cities and development of slums. The pace of urbanization
quickened to unprecedented levels. The migration also broke the social ties the worker
(i.e. the former peasant or farmer) was used to in villages. This, along with the deplorable
living conditions, caused many other problems like alcoholism, illicit relationships,
loneliness, etc. This degraded the quality of life to such an extent that it was said: "the
shortest route out of Manchester is a glass of whiskey".

Economic and political effect

The capitalists emerged from the hitherto middle class. The money Aristocrats traders of
middle class, bankers, contractors, engineers, lawyers, and managers, played most
important role in the Industrial process. The industrial revolution was an expression of
their strength. Their power increased in leaps and bounds. They had the funds to
influence the government. They acquired a stranglehold over politics which continues till
date. Other customs like the importance of punctuality and taking appointments before
meeting people, also started during this age.

The greatest changes of the effects due to the industrial revolution were visible all over
the world. A capitalist had two main requirements for making windfall profits. One was
cheap supply of raw materials, and the other was a ready market. Both of these were
available in colonies. This led to the colonization of many lands in Asia, Africa and
South America. The economies of the colonies were comprehensively subordinated to the
mother nation. This resulted in a scramble for colonies amongst the great powers of that
age. Although England was the strongest power; France, Holland, Portugal, Denmark,
and later, Germany and Italy also entered the race. This race led to imperialism,
culminating in the two World Wars. English exports were creating problems for the
industrial development of other powers. To control this, tariffs were imposed on British
goods, leading to tariff barriers. As a result of colonization, events in one part of the
world started influencing events in other parts of the world as well. This is the simplest
description of globalization.

The origin of many modern phenomena and problems can be traced back to the industrial
revolution. The industrial revolution was primarily the economic dimension of the change
from the middle age to the modern age.