Saturday, 24 July 2021



England is the first country where industrial related productions have commenced. In the late 18th and at the beginning of the 19th century (1760–1840) there were enormous socio-economic changes in England which collectively known as the Industrial Revolution (IR). It is called First Industrial Revolution or simply Industrial Revolution. The IR began in England in about 1750–1760, which was the transition to new manufacturing processes in the period from about 1760 to sometime between 1820 and 1840. According to R. M. Hartwell, the IR is, “The sustained increase in the rate of growth of total and per capita output as a rate which was revolutionary compared with what went before.” According to S. Haward Patterson, “Industrial revolution may be defined as changes in methods of production brought about by the invention of power machinery and the consequence development of factory systems the term revolution denotes a turning away from movement or any sweeping and sudden changes.” The IR is considered as the sustained but very slow economic growth in Britain based on constantly growing useful knowledge. England had expanded its import and export markets through capitalism to finance factories and machinery. The IR made England the wealthiest country in the world in the 18th century and the beginning of the 19th century.

Image: Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. (LC-DIG-nclc-01581)

The IR is an important historical process in local, regional, national, continental and global contexts. Due to the IR social, cultural, political and geopolitical progress happened, which drive economic transformation from an agrarian to an industrial economy, in Europe and in North America. Economic historians called it structural change to an industrial economy. We can divide the history of industrial development into three periods: Ancient Industry, Medieval Industry and Modern Industry. This classification is done with a view to chronology of development.

  1. Ancient Period: In the ancient or primitive period of industry are included those works that were performed by man when he was neither iterate nor civilized. In this period no systematic industry had developed. The main concern of man during these days was merely to provide for food and physical protection. All primitive weapons were made either of wood or stone. Besides, making fire by friction of stone or bamboo was an industrial miracle of that time.

  2. Medieval Period: In medieval period there was sufficient development in industry. In this period the signs of industry because quite visible in the efforts of man. A number manually operate machines were fabricated. Man also began using animal power to meet his ends. The signs of industrialization, production of goods in excess of consumption and stocking of these came into evidence at this time. The exchange of goods and division of labour also came into vague. As a consequence of this, different industries started operating separately.

The medieval industrial age in the West can be divided into three distinct industrial systems. The division is based on the nature of the industrial system. These industrial systems are:

  1. Feudal System: Under the system, the primary industry was agriculture. Few persons controlled vast reacts of lands each and they engaged and employed hundreds of workers to do the farming, this system was vague in Europe between the 9th and 12th centuries. Under this system the owner in Europe between the 9th and 12th centuries. Under this system, the owner of the land was called feudal lord and persons engaged by him were called serfs. The serfs were virtual slaves of the feudal lord.

  2. Guild System: The urbanization in Europe emancipated the serfs from their traditional slavery. Having emancipated themselves from serfdom under feudal lords the workers started learning new trades and skills. As a result of specialization and proficiency in trades acquired by workers, centres of trade came up. Gradually this process gave rise to the guild system.

  3. Domestic System: After the decline of the guild system, the domestic system came into vogue. This system was kind of capitalism. As far as the method of production was concerned, it was not much different from that of the guild system. However, under the domestic system, there was no place and no rule for various guilds and trade associations. Under domestic systems, ahead of family who normally was a master craftsman controlled the entire production and everything was under personal ownership. The head of the family used to provide for the raw material and also the manufactured goods. All processes or stages of production were under his individual control and supervision.

  1. Modern Industry and Individualism: As a result of industrialization the individualistic outlook on life became predominant. The capitalism grew fast in power and competence. The idea of life became the maximization of the abilities, capacities and powers of the individual, in contrast to the individualism of industrial period, society and collective unit occupied the place or pride in the guild system as well as in the times of feudalism. As a result of the growth of individualism, the entire trade and business came to be controlled by private individuals and foreign intervention in the form of social or government control was unthinkable. Now the individual had the right to buy and sell property. The credit system also came into vogue. Under these conditions, wealth was concentrated in few hands.

On the other hand, industrialization has a deep impact on society. Industrialization split the whole of society into two fragments: the capitalists and the workers. As a result of industrialization, the process of urbanization was greatly accelerated and the means of communication developed rapidly. Thus the general standard of living was raised from economic as well as social points of view. More interest was shown in education, arts and science. It brought great changes in social and economic life. The discoveries of new territories, explorations, growth of trade and the consequent growth of town brought increasing in demand for goods, especially in England mainly in Europe. Some of the inventions are put forward and will be discussing in the following.

  1. New Inventions: During the industrial revolution new tools and techniques were developed and invented which produce goods on large scale. A change in economy from feudal to capitalist system of production developed. Society moved from old age of hand-made goods to the new age of machine-made goods.

    1. In 1765, James Watt invented steam engine, which was considered as the starting point of the search for alternative energy.

    2. In 1767, James Hargreaves invented spinning Jenny, which led to quicker and better methods of production in industries.

    3. In 1769, Richard Arkwright invented another tool named Water Frame.

    4. In 1779, Samuel Crompton invented a tool called Mule.

  2. Impact of the Industrial Revolution on Society: Several social changes arose due to the changing pattern of economy. Development of banks, insurance companies and financial corporation’s arose. The peasants also changed their lifestyle with the establishment of spinning mills. The population increased with the increase in production. Rise of population led to the increased rate of urban sector. Industrial cities grew rapidly. The history from the period 1811 to 1850 indicates that new working class increasingly agitated for their rights.

  3. Significant Themes of the Industrial Revolution: According to the sociologists the significant themes of industrial revolution were given below:

    1. The Condition of Labour: Population was socially deprived and indispensable in the new industrial system which made them a powerful social force. Poverty in class of workers is not natural poverty but social poverty. They were morally and analytically concerned during the nineteenth century.

    2. The Transformation of Property: During the industrial revolution, the traditional emphasis on land lost its value while money or capital became important. The feudal landlords became less significant while new capitalists gained power. Property was one of the central issues that were raised in French Revolution.

    3. The Industrial City i.e. Urbanism: Urbanization was very essential corollary of industrial revolution. Population grew with growth of industries. Ancient cities were known as repositories of civilized graces and new cities were known as repositories of misery and inhumanity.

    4. Technology and the Factory System: In the 19th century, technology and the factory system have been the subjects of countless writing. Factory system led to large migration of people to the cities. Women and children were also involved in factory system.

During 1760–1840, Great Britain experienced the IR, which began a period of economic growth and prosperity which we call the modern era. Development of textile industry, iron and steel industry, various chemicals production, agricultural revolution, improvement of transportation, etc. had happened during IR. Marx noticed a form of enslavement in the machine and a manifestation of alienation of labour. Social scientists felt that men and women had grown mechanical in heart, as well as in hand due to the industrial system of production.


Source cited

Industrial Revolution (pp. 27-29) ~ Link

The First Industrial Revolution: Creation of a New Global Human Era ~ Link

The Industrial Revolution and Its Impact on European Society ~ Link

Sociological_Theory_(8th_Edition) - George_Ritzer (pp. 5-6) ~ Link

Industrial Revolution - Youtube ~ Link

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