The industrial revolution is a process of transition from an agrarian economy, which is characterized by manual labor and handicraft production, to an industrial society with a predominance of machine production. The process begins in England in the 1740s – 1780s and only then spreads to other countries in Europe and the USA. The term itself appeared much later and became widely used only from the last decades of the 19th century. One of the many impacts of the Industrial Revolution is that it has given birth to Modern Family.
Background of the Revolution
The 18th century was characterized by a significant increase in the population of several European countries, including England. Significantly increased demand for food provoked an agricultural revolution in England: a restructuring of the land use system, a change in the technology of land cultivation, the selection of seeds and breeds of livestock, the emergence of specialization in certain areas of the country and a number of other phenomena. In place of peasant landholders came tenants who used wage earners. All this allowed to make English agriculture not only significantly more productive, but also more profitable, and the money that appeared in the village, in turn, led to the massive demand for industrial goods.
The dominant production system based on manual labor at that time could not fully satisfy this demand. Moreover, it began to be presented by new strata of society, who had no experience in the mass use of industrial goods — those, for whom the products of artisans or manufactories were too expensive, we’re happy to buy cheaper, although often of lower quality, factory-made products.
In addition, the agricultural revolution made it possible to solve another problem – where to get money for the construction of factories and plants, and often in those sectors where there was no industrial production at all. Factories were several times more expensive than manufactories, and capital accumulated in agriculture was put into the industry.
Thus, by the middle of the 18th century, several factors came together in England at once: the wealth of natural resources, free capital, the desire and ability to invest money in that sector of the economy that seemed to be more profitable, and the massive demand for industrial products that ensured price increases and market.
Stages of the Industrial Revolution in England
The question of the stages of the industrial revolution in England remains very debatable. The process lasted for many decades and not only did not have at least a general plan but often was not even realized by contemporaries, including the leading economists of that era. It was very uneven: along with radically changing industries, there were also those in which nothing changed or changed much more slowly. In this regard, a number of historians raise the question of whether it is correct in principle to use the term “revolution”. Inventions often did not follow the needs of a particular industry, but anticipated their needs and remained unclaimed for years. The state did not manage this process – sometimes a point of view is expressed in historiography, that the British government in the midst of the industrial revolution almost turned its back on the economy. All this does not allow us to single out any generally accepted stages of this process.
Looking from the 21st century, one can say, at the same time risking to hear a lot of reasonable objections, that until about the 1760s the foundation was laid on which the industrial revolution would later grow. Following the creation of the Bank of England in 1694, a system of small local banks (country banks) began to develop in the country, ensuring freer circulation of funds. The interest rate on loans is declining: if during the wars of Wilhelm III it was about 7–8%, then by the middle of the 18th century it was 3%. The transport revolution begins: the technology of creating canals is being improved, since the 1740s they are being built based on the needs of the growing industry, and toll roads are being actively created. Production and transportation of coal, which has become the main fuel of the industrial revolution, is developing.
Inventions in these years are relatively rare. Among the most striking are, for example, John Kay’s aircraft shuttle (1733), which, however, received wide distribution much later. Basically, it was a time when England borrowed what appeared in other countries, often several centuries before technology crossed the Pas-de-Calais.
Around the beginning of the 1760s, the situation has changed significantly. “England of the second half of the 18th century already belongs to the future,” wrote Pierre Sönü, begins a series of inventions glorified by England, which we most often associate with the industrial revolution. The spinning wheel “Jenny” by James Hargreaves (1764), the spinning machines of Richard Arkwright (c. 1769) and Samuel Crompton (c. 1779), the Edmund Cartwright loom (milestone of the 1780-1790s) led to dramatic changes in the manufacture of fabrics. The puddling process discovered by Henry Kort (patent 1784) made the process of smelting iron cheaper and more efficient.
The steam engine appeared in Europe at the turn of the 16th – 17th centuries.
In 1708, the Englishman Thomas Newcomen adapted it for a steam pump, but James Watt’s experiments with steam began around 1765, and the commercial use of his engine began in 1783 when he proposed a universal engine that could already be installed in factories and plants. Since the late 1770s, wooden rails in mines and mines have been replaced with cast-iron ones. From here it is already within reach of the construction of railways. In the 1780s the first steamboats appeared. At the same time, there is a sharp jump in the number of patents obtained for inventions.
The industrial revolution enters the new stage with the beginning of the 19th century. The role of foreign trade grows significantly: it is already a source of funds for British industry and provides it with an unlimited (or, if you prefer, cross-border) expansion of the sales market. Engine Watt conquers England and begins its triumphal march through Europe. The transport revolution is coming to an end: around 1820, a new pavement developed by John Macadam is being introduced, in 1829 the first passenger railway between Manchester and Liverpool was built, and shortly before that, the first lines for the transport of goods. Finally, the role of science is becoming visible – before that, for the most part, there was an era of engineers and inventors, who often had no special education.
The course of the revolution in different countries
During the industrial revolution and over the next few decades, England’s share in world industrial production increased more than 10 times. It is not surprising that other countries sought to follow its example, especially since the starting conditions for them were often more favorable: the state clearly recognized the need for economic restructuring and actively promoted it; it became possible to import technology, personnel, and capital from more developed countries; it was approximately clear which industries and in what sequence to develop. First of all, the industrial revolution extends to those countries where its basis could become, as in England, a higher intensity of labor compared to the rest of the world — it is not by chance that one of the historians would call the industrial revolution a “hardworking revolution”.
The course of the industrial revolution had many common features in various countries. As a rule, it was preceded by a significant increase in population, often accompanied by an influx of money into the agricultural sector of the economy and its radical restructuring, one way or another, the problem of finding capital and energy sources was solved. Everywhere the development of industry was accompanied by the construction of new means of communication, including railways – in the 1820–1830s they appeared in France, Belgium, Germany, the United States, and the Kingdom of both Sicily and the Russian Empire. In many countries, there are toll roads, steamboats begin to float along the rivers.
The first to follow the example of England was Wallonia, which made Belgium one of the largest industrial powers in the world; it was included in the group of world leaders until the last quarter of the 19th century. At the beginning of the 19th century, the industrial revolution came to the United States, significantly later, in the 1830–1860s, it occurs in France. There, it was carried out with reliance on the textile and metallurgical industries, and the state made a considerable contribution to the construction of transport infrastructure. Even later, around the middle of the 19th century, the German states entered into an industrial revolution, but by the end of the century, united Germany would be among the leaders.
Inventions made in these countries also quickly became known throughout Europe and across the ocean, you can list them endlessly, often we do not even realize that this or that absolutely familiar thing today appeared just during the industrial revolution. In 1807, Robert Fulton creates the famous paddle steamer. In the mid-1830s, based on the inventions of his predecessors, Samuel Colt was developing his own revolver. The invention of Samuel Morse allowed in 1844 to build in the United States the first telegraph line using his alphabet. Barthelemy Timone created the first commercially successful sewing machine (1829), Louis Dagger invents the first camera (1839), Joel Haton – the dishwasher (1850), James King – washing (1851), Adolf Fick manufactures the first successful contact lenses (1888).
The industrial revolutions in developed countries certainly had a lot of features.
Thus, in Belgium, the coup drew primarily on iron ore and coal, as well as on the long-standing traditions of textile production and had many similarities with the English model.
In France, it is often assumed that the dynamics of industrial development in this country turned out to be non-linear: after the initial take-off from the 1860s and to the end of the century, a noticeable decrease in rates was recorded, which was overcome only with the onset of the 20th century. When describing the processes that took place in Germany, the later start is usually explained by the fragmentation of the country, but at the same time it is noted that Germany was rich in natural resources, had capital and had such an education system that allowed quickly and practically from scratch to prepare a lot of qualified personnel and achieve superiority in new industries: electrical and especially chemical. In the USA, historians note that, on the one hand, the industrial revolution took place based on overseas technologies and capital, and on the other hand.
Implications of the Industrial Revolution
If you look from today, the consequences of the industrial revolution cannot be overestimated. In fact, it is from it that the whole modern technological civilization grows; its values and principles spread from Great Britain, first to Europe and North America, and then gradually conquering the whole world. Agrarian civilization is becoming a thing of the past. It is being replaced by an industrial one. This can be seen not only through dry numbers, showing the change in the percentage of the population employed in agriculture or industry, or the number of urban dwellers — the whole daily life of people changes: food products eventually begin to be produced in factories, individual orders, standard and interchangeable parts appear, in the construction of bridges and ships metal is used to replace wood, the globe becomes so small that it can be rounded in eighty days. It is difficult to find a sphere of life that is not affected by the industrial revolution.
She touched upon the very structure of society: the importance of the peasantry falls, the role of the land aristocracy decreases, many craftsmen and crafts disappear, manufactories are closed. The world with which Marx was enchanted, the coexistence (or opposition) of the industrial bourgeoisie and the industrial proletariat, on which he built his theories, is also a consequence of the industrial revolution. The trade union movement, socialist and workers’ organizations arise – thus, the industrial revolution is also the basis of many social upheavals of the 19th – early 20th century.
In a number of European countries, historians see the middle class almost from the 17th century, but it is after the industrial revolution that one can speak of it as a separate social stratum with its own ethics and philosophy of life. In many ways, this middle class was created by the industrial revolution: they are owners of small factories, managers, new professional layers, such as, for example, engineers
The working conditions are changing: the interdependence of people within one team forces them to impose strict discipline, put some workers under the supervision of others, prohibit them from being distracted from work, or be late for it.
The family still retains its economic importance, but it is increasingly ceasing to be a place of work. The economic role of women in the family is falling. A new division of labor appears: the man works, the woman leads the house and looks after the children. Thus, home and work, working time and leisure time are clearly separated. At the turn of the 1770–1780s, the first kindergartens opened in Europe, and in the 19th century, nurseries.
In fact, in world history, there were only two revolutions of this scale: the first one turned the hunter and gatherer into a farmer, the second turned the farmer into a producer of goods and services.