- (sometimes caps.) the totality of the changes in economic and social organization that began about 1760 in England and later in other countries, characterized chiefly by the replacement of hand tools with power-driven machines, as the power loom and the steam engine, and by the concentration of industry in large establishments.[1840-50]
* * *Process of change from an agrarian, handicraft economy to one dominated by industry and machine manufacture.It began in England in the 18th century. Technological changes included the use of iron and steel, new energy sources, invention of new machines that increased production (including the spinning jenny), development of the factory system, and important developments in transportation and communication (including the steam engine and telegraph). Other changes included agricultural improvements, a wider distribution of wealth, political changes reflecting the shift in economic power, and sweeping social changes. The Industrial Revolution was largely confined to Britain from 1760 to 1830, then spread to Belgium and France. Other nations lagged behind, but once Germany, the U.S., and Japan achieved industrial power they outstripped Britain's initial successes. Eastern European countries lagged into the 20th century, and not until the mid-20th century did the Industrial Revolution spread to such countries as China and India. Many analysts saw evidence of a second, or new, industrial revolution in the later 20th century, with the use of new materials and energy sources, automated factories, new ownership of the means of production, and a shift away from laissez-faire government.
* * *Introductionin modern history, the process (industrialization) of change from an agrarian, handicraft economy to one dominated by industry and machine manufacture. This process began in England in the 18th century and from there spread to other parts of the world. Although used earlier by French writers, the term Industrial Revolution was first popularized by the English economic historian Arnold Toynbee (Toynbee, Arnold) (1852–83) to describe England's economic development from 1760 to 1840. Since Toynbee's time the term has been more broadly applied.A brief treatment of the Industrial Revolution follows. For full treatment, see Europe, history of: The Industrial Revolution (Europe, history of).The main features involved in the Industrial Revolution were technological, socioeconomic, and cultural. The technological (technology, history of) changes included the following: (1) the use of new basic materials, chiefly iron and steel, (2) the use of new energy sources, including both fuels and motive power, such as coal, the steam engine, electricity, petroleum, and the internal-combustion engine, (3) the invention of new machines, such as the spinning jenny and the power loom that permitted increased production with a smaller expenditure of human energy, (4) a new organization of work known as the factory system, which entailed increased division of labour and specialization of function, (5) important developments in transportation and communication, including the steam locomotive, steamship, automobile, airplane, telegraph, and radio, and (6) the increasing application of science to industry. These technological changes made possible a tremendously increased use of natural resources and the mass production of manufactured goods.There were also many new developments in nonindustrial spheres, including the following: (1) agricultural improvements that made possible the provision of food for a larger nonagricultural population, (2) economic changes that resulted in a wider distribution of wealth, the decline of land as a source of wealth in the face of rising industrial production, and increased international trade, (3) political changes reflecting the shift in economic power, as well as new state policies corresponding to the needs of an industrialized society, (4) sweeping social changes, including the growth of cities, the development of working-class movements, and the emergence of new patterns of authority, and (5) cultural transformations of a broad order. The worker acquired new and distinctive skills, and his relation to his task shifted; instead of being a craftsman working with hand tools, he became a machine operator, subject to factory discipline. Finally, there was a psychological change: man's confidence in his ability to use resources and to master nature was heightened.The First Industrial Revolution.In the period 1760 to 1830 the Industrial Revolution was largely confined to Britain. Aware of their head start, the British forbade the export of machinery, skilled workers, and manufacturing techniques. The British monopoly could not last forever, especially since some Britons saw profitable industrial opportunities abroad, while continental European businessmen sought to lure British know-how to their countries. Two Englishmen, William (Cockerill, William) and John Cockerill, brought the Industrial Revolution to Belgium by developing machine shops at Liège (c. 1807), and Belgium became the first country in continental Europe to be transformed economically. Like its English progenitor, the Belgian Industrial Revolution centred in iron, coal, and textiles.France was more slowly and less thoroughly industrialized than either Britain or Belgium. While Britain was establishing its industrial leadership, France was immersed in its Revolution, and the uncertain political situation discouraged large investments in industrial innovations. By 1848 France had become an industrial power, but, despite great growth under the Second Empire, it remained behind England.Other European countries lagged far behind. Their bourgeoisie lacked the wealth, power, and opportunities of their British, French, and Belgian counterparts. Political conditions in the other nations also hindered industrial expansion. Germany, for example, despite vast resources of coal and iron, did not begin its industrial expansion until after national unity was achieved in 1870. Once begun, Germany's industrial production grew so rapidly that by the turn of the century that nation was outproducing Britain in steel and had become the world leader in the chemical industries. The rise of U.S. industrial power in the 19th and 20th centuries also far outstripped European efforts. And Japan too joined the Industrial Revolution with striking success.The eastern European countries were behind early in the 20th century. It was not until the five-year plans that the Soviet Union (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics) became a major industrial power, telescoping into a few decades the industrialization that had taken a century and a half in Britain. The mid-20th century witnessed the spread of the Industrial Revolution into hitherto nonindustrialized areas such as China and India.The Second Industrial Revolution.Despite considerable overlapping with the “old,” there is mounting evidence for a “new” Industrial Revolution in the late 19th and 20th centuries. In terms of basic materials, modern industry has begun to exploit many natural and synthetic resources not hitherto utilized: lighter metals, new alloys, and synthetic products such as plastics, as well as new energy sources. Combined with these are developments in machines, tools, and computers that have given rise to the automatic factory. Although some segments of industry were almost completely mechanized in the early to mid-19th century, automatic operation, as distinct from the assembly line, first achieved major significance in the second half of the 20th century.Ownership of the means of production also underwent changes. The oligarchical ownership of the means of production that characterized the Industrial Revolution in the early to mid-19th century gave way to a wider distribution of ownership through purchase of common stocks by individuals and by institutions such as insurance companies. In the 20th century, many countries of Europe socialized basic sectors of their economies. There was also a change in political theories: instead of the laissez-faire ideas that dominated the economic and social thought of the classical Industrial Revolution, governments generally moved into the social and economic realm to meet the needs of their more complex industrial societies.
* * *
Look at other dictionaries:
Industrial Revolution — Inˌdustrial Revoˈlution noun [singular] the period in the 18th and 19th centuries when machines were first used to produce goods on a large scale: • The Industrial Revolution created a great demand for urban housing. * * * industrial revolution… … Financial and business terms
industrial revolution — n. The changes in the methods of production as well as the resulting changes in economic and social organization accompanying the replacement of hand labor by power driven machinery. It started in England in about 1760, and spread to other… … The Collaborative International Dictionary of English
Industrial Revolution — n. [often i r ] the change in social and economic organization resulting from the replacement of hand tools by machine and power tools and the development of large scale industrial production: applied to this development in England from about… … English World dictionary
Industrial Revolution — The Industrial Revolution was a period in the late 18th and early 19th centuries when major changes in agriculture, manufacturing, and transportation had a profound effect on the socioeconomic and cultural conditions in Britain. The changes… … Wikipedia
Industrial Revolution — noun the transformation from an agricultural to an industrial nation (Freq. 2) • Syn: ↑technological revolution • Instance Hypernyms: ↑historic period, ↑age * * * noun the Industrial Revolution : the major social and economic changes that… … Useful english dictionary
Industrial Revolution — A period of major industrialization that took place during the late 1700s and early 1800s. The Industrial Revolution, beginning in Great Britain, quickly spread throughout the world. This time period saw the mechanization of agriculture and… … Investment dictionary
Industrial revolution — The Industrial Revolution took place during the mid to late nineteenth century and saw significant social, technological, and economic progress. For the fashion industry, it began with advances in the mass production of textiles due to earlier … Historical Dictionary of the Fashion Industry
Industrial Revolution — In.dustrial Revo lution n the Industrial Revolution the period in the 18th and 19th centuries in Europe and the USA when machines were invented and the first factories were established … Dictionary of contemporary English
Industrial revolution — Commerce and agriculture were the most important sectors of the Dutch economy until late in the 19th century. The unification in 1815 of the northern and southern parts of the Netherlands (the Republic and Belgium) promised a good start for a… … Historical Dictionary of the Netherlands
industrial revolution — noun Date: 1848 a rapid major change in an economy (as in England in the late 18th century) marked by the general introduction of power driven machinery or by an important change in the prevailing types and methods of use of such machines … New Collegiate Dictionary