The Industrial Revolution was one the transformative events in world history. Britain was in the forefront because of several advantageous circumstances. An agricultural revolution had increased the quantity of foodstuffs, thus lowering the costs, and a population increase supplied a surplus of labor for the new industrial technologies. Britain was a wealthy nation with capital for investment, and unlike in some continental countries, profit was a legitimate goal. Coal and iron were abundant, and a transportation revolution created a system of canals, roads, bridges, and later, steam-powered railroads. Parliament had established a stable government where property, one of Locke s natural rights, was protected. Finally, Britain was the world s major colonial power with access to overseas markets. The cotton industry led the way because of new technologies such as the spinning jenny and power loom. Most significant was the steam engine, perfected by James Watt (d.1819). London s Great Exhibition of 1851 showcased to the world Britain s industrial and imperial might.

Continental industrialization was delayed because of a lack of transport, the existence of internal tolls, less sympathetic governments, and the upheavals of the French Revolution and Napoleonic wars. Continental nations made use of British technology and artisans until they established schools to train their own engineers and mechanics. Unlike Britain’s laissez-faire approach, continental industrialization was subsidized by governments the construction of railroads, establishing technical schools, and excluding cheaper British goods through tariffs. By 1860, the United States was also well along the road of industrialization.

In the non-western world industrial development was much slower, in part because it lacked the social-economic-political structures of the West, but also because Britain and other colonial powers prevented the growth of local industries in order to maintain a market for their manufactured goods: colonies were to produce raw materials and purchase industrial products.

The birthrate declined but the population increased because of a reduction in epidemics and wars and an increase in the food supply. Overpopulation, particularly in rural areas, led to disaster, such as in the potato famine in Ireland that led to the death of a million persons between 1845 and 1851. Cities grew dramatically: London grew from one million in 1800 to 2.35 million in 1850. Urbanization was slower on the continent, and until the twentieth century most workers were still engaged in agriculture. Urban living conditions were often horrendous, and most cities lacked any semblance of sanitary facilities.

The new middle-class consisted of manufacturers and bankers. Even members of the traditional aristocracy became industrial entrepreneurs. Another new class was the working class. The work environment of long hours and unsafe conditions, especially in the factories, was dreadful; child labor was the norm. Laws were passed, in Britain known as the Factory Acts, in the attempt to improve factory conditions, initially for women and children, and workhouses were established for the jobless and homeless. Whether there were improvements in general living standards is difficult to determine. Statistics suggest that there was an increase in real wages, but miserable living and working conditions offset the gains. Labor unions were formed to improve wages and conditions but with limited success. Workers sometimes protested by destroying the factories and machines, as did the Luddites in England. England s Chartist movement petitioned Parliament, demanding reforms, but the politicians rejected their demands. In summary, the Industrial Revolution radically transformed western civilization and then the rest of the world – politically, economically, socially – for good and for ill.

  1. Explain the context in which industrialization originated, developed, and spread in Europe.
    1. The Industrial Revolution spread from Great Britain to the continent, where the state played a greater role in promoting industry
      1. Great Britain established its industrial dominance through the mechanization of textile production, iron and steel production, and new transportation systems in conjunction with uniquely favorable political and social climates.
      2. Following the British example, industrialization took root in continentalEurope, sometimes with state sponsorship.
    2. The experiences of everyday life were shaped by industrialization, depending on the level of industrial development in a particular location.
      1. Industrialization promoted the development of new classes in the industrial regions of Europe.
      2. Europe experienced rapid population growth and urbanization, leading to social dislocations.
      3. Over time, the Industrial Revolution altered the family structure and relations for bourgeois and working-class families.
    3. Political revolutions and the complications resulting from industrialization triggered a range of ideological, governmental, and collective responses.
      1. Ideologies developed and took root throughout society as a response to industrial and political revolutions.
      2. Governments, at times based on the pressure of political or social organizations, responded to problems created or exacerbated by industrialization.
  2. Explain the factors that influenced the development of industrialization in Europe from 1815 to 1914.
    1. Britain s ready supplies of coal, iron ore, and other essential raw materials promoted industrial growth.
    2. Great Britain established its industrial dominance through the mechanization of textile production, iron and steel production, and new transportation systems in conjunction with uniquely favorable political and social climates.
    3. Economic institutions and human capital such as engineers, inventors, and capitalists helped Britain lead the process of industrialization, largely through private initiative.
      • Illustrative Examples of Britain's leadership: The Crystal Palace at the Great Exhibition of 1851, banks, government financial awards to inventors
    4. Britain s parliamentary government promoted commercial and industrial interests because those interests were represented in Parliament.
      • Illustrative Examples of commercial interest serving in government: Repeal of the Corn Laws
      • Illustrative Examples of government suport of industrialization: canals, railroads, trade agreements
    5. France moved toward industrialization at a more gradual pace than Great Britain, with government support and with less dislocation of traditional methods of production.
    6. A combination of factors, including geography, lack of resources, the dominance of traditional landed elites, the persistence of serfdom in some areas, and inadequate government sponsorship, accounted for eastern and southern Europe s lag in industrial development.
    7. Because of the continued existence of more primitive agricultural practices and land-owning patterns, some areas of Europe lagged in industrialization while facing famine, debt, and land shortages.
    8. Great Britain established its industrial dominance through the mechanization of textile production, iron and steel production, and new transportation systems in conjunction with uniquely favorable political and social climates.
      • Illustrative Examples of geographic factors in eastern and southern Europe:: lack of resources, lack of adequate transportation
    9. The experiences of everyday life were shaped by industrialization, depending on the level of industrial development in a particular location.
      • Illustrative Examples of primitive agricultural practices and famines:: The “Hungry ’40s,” Irish potato famine, Russian serfdom
  3. Explain the causes and consequences of social developments resulting from industrialization.
    1. In industrialized areas of Europe (i.e., western and northern Europe), socioeconomic changes created divisions of labor that led to the development of self-conscious classes, including the proletariat and the bourgeoisie.
    2. In some of the less industrialized areas of Europe, the dominance of agricultural elites continued into the 20th century.
    3. Class identity developed and was reinforced through participation in philanthropic, political, and social associations among the middle classes, and in mutual aid societies and trade unions among the working classes.
    4. With migration from rural to urban areas in industrialized regions, cities experienced overcrowding, while affected rural areas suffered declines in available labor as well as weakened communities.
    5. Bourgeois families became focused on the nuclear family and the cult of domesticity, with distinct gender roles for men and women.
    6. By the end of the century, higher wages, laws restricting the labor of children and women, social welfare programs, improved diet, and increased access to birth control affected the quality of life for the working class.
    7. Economic motivations for marriage, while still important for all classes, diminished as the middle-class notion of companionate marriage began to be adopted by the working classes.
    8. Leisure time centered increasingly on the family or small groups, concurrent with the development of activities and spaces to use that time.

Reading 1: Pages 596-599

The Industrial Revolution in Great Britain:

Reading 2: Pages 599-604

The Industrial Revolution in Great Britain:
     Technological Changes & New Forms of Organization
     Britain s Great Exhibition of 1851

Reading 3: Pages 604-609

The Spread of Industrialization:
     Industrialization on the Continent
     The Industrial Revolution in the United States
     Limiting the Spread of Idustrialization

Reading 4: Pages 609-617

The Social Impact of the Industrial Revolution:
     Population Growth
     The Growth of Cities
     New Social Classes: The Industrial Middle Class

Reading 5: Pages 617-621

The Social Impact of the Industrial Revolution:
     New Social Classes: Workers in the Industrial Age
     Efforts at Change: The Workers
     Efforts at Change: Reformers and Government