What is the Industrial revolution?
Last Updated: November 17, 2019
- The industrial revolution was the transition to new manufacturing processes from about 1760 to 1870. It brought some radical changes to the world.
- This transition includes: going from hand production methods to machines, new chemical manufacturing and iron production, the increasing use of steam power, the development of machine tools and the rise of the factory system.
- Industrial Revolution, in modern history, the process of change from an agrarian and handicraft economy to one dominated by industry and machine manufacturing. This process began in Britain in the 18th century and from there spread to other parts of the world. Although used earlier by French writers, the term Industrial Revolution was first popularized by the English economic historian Arnold Toynbee (1852–83) to describe Britain’s economic development from 1760 to 1840. Since Toynbee’s time, the term has been more broadly applied.
- Textiles were the dominant industry of the Industrial Revolution in terms of employment, the value of output and capital The textile industry was also the first to use modern production methods.
- It began in England and later spread to France, Germany, Netherlands, Austro Hungary, and other nations/empires.
- It is continuing to this day in many ways.
- The industrial revolution is defined as the changes in manufacturing and transportation that began with fewer things being made by hand but instead made using machines in larger-scale factories.
- The main features involved in the Industrial Revolution were technological, socioeconomic, and cultural.
The technological changes included the following :
- The use of new basic materials, chiefly iron and steel,
- The use of new energy sources, including both fuels and motive power, such as coal, the steam engine, electricity, petroleum, and the internal-combustion engine,
- The invention of new machines, such as the spinning jenny and the power loom that permitted increased production with a smaller expenditure of human energy,
- A new organization of work known as the factory system, which entailed the increased division of labor and specialization of function,
- Important developments in transportation and communication, including the steam locomotive, steamship, automobile, airplane, telegraph, and radio, and
- The increasing application of science to industry. These technological changes made possible a tremendously increased use of natural resources and the mass production of manufactured goods.
The Preceding millennia :
- Farming was the main occupation of the majority of people.
- They lived close to food sources.
- All commodities were local, foreign goods were a rare luxury.
- Production of goods was for ‘use’, rather than profit.
- Weapons which could kill few peoples at ones.
- Life expectancy is 35 years.
- Travel and communication between far off places – nonexistent or extremely slow.
Factors leading to the industrial revolution in England :
- The agricultural surplus in England due to new techniques in farming- the ‘agricultural revolution’ of 17th
- Mercantilisms- trading for profit, accumulation for wealth
- The long coastline – no region is far away from the seaport. This facilitated the procurement of raw materials.
- Semi-skilled workers were readily available.
- An abundance of coal and iron – England was an initial pioneer in these fields.
- A government that encourages improvements in transportation and used its navy to protect British trade.
- The administrative and military expenditure of England was lower than the monarchies of Europe at the time.
- Resource in the form of colonies – cheap raw materials and ready markets.
- Scientific inventions were facilitated and promoted.
- Banks and banking system.
- Low population – the high cost of labor.
- Strong property laws and political institutions
- Incentives to invent and adopt machines
Inventions that spurred and sustained the revolution :
- The textile industry was the first to be affected by the industrial revolution. It was completely mechanized by 1830s.
- John kay’s ‘flying shuttle’ – weaving industry
- ‘spinning jenny’ – enabling the spinning of 100s of yarns together.
- The power looms
- Steam engine – James Newcomen 
- James watt’s steam engine  – heat energy into mechanical energy
- Steam locomotives- railroads steamboats [1810-1830]
The importance of coal in the industrial revolution:
- Availability near surface
- Abundant in England
- Cheaper than other heat sources like wood (also forests were depleted)
- Rudimentary steam engines were first invented to pump water out of the coal mines. These were improved upon later.
- Iron production at commercial level could be done only due to large quantity of coal – it leads to a revolution in machine tools, trains, and the myriad of other industries
Impact of the Industrial Revolution
- Factory system
- Standardization of factory work methods and processes – massive production quantities
- Means of communication and transportation
- Roads, bridges, railways, tracks, and canals – transport + travel for the common man
- Urbanization – clean water, sewerage systems, public transport
- No more hunger and famine- surplus food could be transported easily
- Capitalism-philosophy of profit maximization, resources of production owned and controlled by few
- The exploitation of workers- long working hours, no protective gears, hazardous and unhygienic working, and living conditions often led to epidemics like cholera
- Traditional weavers and workers were wiped out by machines
- Child labor flourished because it was cheaper to employ children (and women also)
- More demand for colonial expansion
- De-industrialization of colonies like India
- Population increase – a growth of slums, low wages
- Europe’s population: 140 million in 1750 and 463 million in 1914
- Pollution- health and environment concern
- The dominance of European nations over world affairs in the 18th and 19th century
- The many negative impacts of the industrial revolution led to the growth of a different strand of thinking in society – socialism – a model which believed equality, where people collectively own and control means of production and the distribution of results is proportional.
The Phases of the Industrial Revolution:
1st phase (1760-1850)
- The mechanization of the textile industry, mining and metallurgy, steam engine and its applications in transport
2nd phase (late 19th century)
- Scientific inventions take Centre stage
- Steel and chemical
- Growth of mass production (assembly lines)
- USA and Germany led this phase
3rd phase (late 20th century- ongoing)
- Communication technology
- Digitization of manufacturing – 3D printing
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About Industrial Revolution, Technological Changes, Preceding Millennia, Factors Leading the Industrial Revolution, Importance Coal, Impact of the Industrial Revolution and Different Phases of the Industrial Revolution. Get Here All the detailed information – Last Update 15 Sep 2019