1. Industrial revolution

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Industrial revolution:

Industrial revolution is defined as an advent of an era of factory-based mass production that began in the 1760s primarily From Britain’s textile sector. The industrial revolution Primarily began from the textile sector in 1760s but soon spread during the 19th century to other sectors of British economy- Iron and steel sector’s and other consumer goods.

  • Moreover the 19th century particularly 1830s onwards saw the industrial revolution also spreading to other parts of Europe, for example, France, Prussia, United States of America and Japan 1860s
  • Second phase: It took almost a century to bring about a drastic change in the methods of mass production.
  • A number of political, economic, and cultural factors apart from technological developments facilitated the growth of industrial revolution in Britain.

Politically, the colonial expansionist policies of Britain provided an assured market that aided the rise of British capitalist class, apart from providing an assured supply of raw material. Moreover, the British political policies emphasised the rule of law, the right to property and lassies faire approach which provided a safe political environment for the rise of the British capitalist class. Such conclusive political factors were missing in South Asia and china with their largely monarchical set up and little emphasis on rule of law or right to property.

Economically, Europe/Britain dealt with a high cost of labour which was often 10 times higher than its South Asian counter parts. This increased the cost of production and forced them to look for methods to increase labour productivity including mechanizations. However, such push factors were not visible in South Asia or china with abundant cheap labour and raw material supply.

Moreover, Britain with its abundant supply of cheap good quality coal near the surface provided an assured supply of energy sources critical for the industrial revolution. Such supplies were missing in South Asia /china.

Socially/culturally the enlightenment thinking often focussed upon rationality and reason to pursue material growth as an end in itself. However, South Asia saw the rise of a no. of cultures or religion which emphasised other worldly beliefs.


  1. Unplanned Urbanisation – an immediate consequence of the rise of new industrial centres in Britain was that it gave a major push to the rise of new urban centres. However, this urbanisation was predominantly unplanned in nature and was marked by the proliferation of slums lack of safe water supply, sanitation and increasing air pollution. All of which positively affected the standard of living in these urban industrial centres. Even though the production of consumer commodities increased significantly.
  2. Growth of railways: Industrialization in Britain also bought about a rapid expansion of the railway network as a chief instrument to transport goods and raw materials cheaply over long distance. By 1860 Britain had h 6,000-mile-long railways network. Moreover, the spread of the industrial revolution resulted in a rapid rise in railways networks across major industrial economies.
  3. Colonialism rivalry 1850-1900: The colonial rivalry and the search for colonies intensified during the period from 1850 to 1900 between major European powers such as Britain, France, Germany, Italy and even emerging Asian ones like Japan in a search for assured markets for their industrial economies.
  4. Ethic of consumerism: Industrial revolution also have a boost to ethic of Consumerism and upheld it as a valuable social ideal that was respected in the Western societies.
  5. Militants workers protest/working class/ trade unions: Politically a major push was seen towards the rise of militants’ trade unionism, workers strike as the working class rose in protest. Against low wages, long work hours, and absence of pensions. Moreover, political voting rights in Britain 1830 onwards with chartist movements.

Practice question:

  1. Why did Industrial revolution start in Britain?
  2. Was Capitalism a cause or effect of the industrial revolution?
  3. Discuss the key traits of industrial revolution.
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