Industrial Revloution Essay, Research Paper
The industrial Revolution first originated in Great Britain at the end of the 18th century. It profoundly altered Britain s economy and society. The most immediate changes were in the nature of production: what was produced, as well as where and how. Labor was transferred from the production of primary products to the production of manufactured goods and services. Far more manufactured goods were produced than ever before, and technical efficiency rose dramatically. In part, the growth in productivity was achieved by systematic application of scientific and practical knowledge to the manufacturing process. Efficiency was also enhanced when large agglomerations of enterprises were located within limited areas. Thus, the Industrial Revolution involved urbanization, that is, the process of migration from rural to urban communities.
Perhaps the most important changes occurred in the organization of work. The typical enterprise expanded and took on new characteristics. In general, production took place within the firm or the public enterprise instead of the family or manor. Tasks became increasingly routine and specialized. Industrial production became heavily dependent upon the intensive use of capital physical plant and equipment produced for the express purpose of increasing efficiency. A reliance on tools and machinery allowed individual workers to produce more goods than before, and the advantages of experience with a particular task, tool, or piece of equipment reinforced the trend toward specialization.
The growth of specialization and the application of capital to industrial production created new class distinctions. New social and vocational classes emerged that were distinguished from workers by virtue of their ownership or control of the physical means of production. The members of these new classes came to be known as capitalists.
Because the first Industrial Revolution occurred in Great Britain, that country became for a time the workshop of the world. For much of the 18th century, London had been at the center of a complex world trade network that became the basis for the growing export trade associated with industrialization. The export market provided an indispensable outlet for the products of the textile and other industries, where the introduction of new techniques led to a rapid expansion of output. The available data suggest that the growth rate of British exports accelerated markedly after 1780. The export orientation of the expanding trades conferred additional benefits on the growing economy: Export revenues provided British producers purchasing power to import raw materials used in industrial production, and merchants engaged in the export trade acquired skills that proved to be of great value in promoting domestic commerce.
Britain did not long remain the only country to experience an Industrial Revolution. Attempts to specify dates for the Industrial Revolution in other countries are controversial and not particularly rewarding. Nonetheless, scholars generally agree that the Industrial Revolution occurred in France, Belgium, Germany, and the United States about the middle of the 19th century; in Sweden and Japan toward the end of the century; in Russia and Canada just after the turn of the 20th century; and in parts of Latin America, the Middle East, Central and southern Asia, and Africa about or after the middle of the 20th century.
Each Industrial Revolution was different, depending on its time and place. In the beginning, British industry had no foreign competitors that utilized the same methods and exported on a large scale. When other countries began to industrialize, they had to contend with Britain’s head start, but they also learned from the British example. In their case, successful industrialization involved not only the development of new methods of production, but also the modification of techniques used abroad in order to apply them successfully to the country’s own conditions. Although government intervention to promote industrialization was far from negligible in the British case, the role of government has been considerable in Germany, Russia, Japan, and nearly all the nations that have been industrialized in the 20th century.
By definition successful industrialization leads to a rise of national income per capita. It also leads to changes in the distribution of income, in living and working conditions, and in social conduct and convention. The Industrial Revolution in Great Britain and elsewhere led initially to a fall in workers’ purchasing power or to a deterioration in their living conditions. Such questions are the subject of much modern research.