Industrial Revolution

Industrial Revolution

Industrial Revolution, the period in a country's history when it first widely adopts machine methods of producing goods and a transport system to facilitate the extensive regional division of labour necessary to reap the economies of large-scale production. The term was first applied to the industrialization of Britain over the hundred years beginning about 1750. The first phase, up to 1830, was the period of great invention, and subsequent 'industrial revolutions' in other countries have not been as dramatic. The most important technical developments came with the use of coal instead of charcoal in the manufacture of iron, in textile manufacture with the invention of the flying shuttle, the spinning jenny and the mule, and above all in the development of steam power. The second phase, between 1830 and 1850, saw the establishment of the comprehensive railway network and the rapid progress of output and living standards.

Since many countries are still under-developed, and many peoples are relatively poor, attention has focused on the causes of rapid industrial progress, the combination of circumstances necessary to achieve a 'take-off' into rapid growth. Indigenous industrial invention is thought no longer necessary; advanced technological ideas may be adapted by under-developed countries. Economists have singled out population growth, the growth of markets, the widespread discussion and adoption of scientific method, general thriftiness and the availability of capital, and the development of an entrepreneurial philosophy the capacity to recognize and run risks as the desirable conditions for economic growth.

Some economic historians have questioned the appropriateness of the term industrial revolution, both because large-scale industry existed in Britain before 1750 and because the developments thereafter were organically related to economic and social developments in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. But the pace and extent of developments in the century 1750 to 1850 justify regarding it as a special epoch during which the earlier economic development reached a climax. Thus the period deserves a distinctive descriptive name which 'industrial revolution' provides.

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