How to Write an Essay on Industrial Revolution: Tips and Example
The Industrial Revolution represents a process of fundamental change that began in Britain in 1760 and spread all over the world initially by 1820-1840 but also later throughout the 19th century.
The economy changed from being primarily agrarian and handicraft to the one driven by industrial manufacturing. This paper will portray the main elements of the Industrial Revolution, followed by a discussion of its social and cultural consequences. The technological changes brought on by the Industrial Revolution included the following:
- The use of new materials, mainly iron and steel,
- The use of new energy sources, such as coal, steam, petroleum and later electricity,
- The invention of new machines that allowed increased production with less human labor,
- The creation of the factory system as a new way of work organization,
- Advances in transportation and communication and a
- More significant use of scientific developments in the industry.
The Industrial Revolution also had an enormous impact on daily lives of all citizens, which will be discussed later on in the paper.
Factors leading to the Industrial Revolution
The Agricultural Revolution which happened in the 18th century set the stage for the Industrial Revolution, by creating a favorable climate for industrialization. The Agricultural Revolution increased the food supply with decreased labor needed to produce it. The traditional small farm food production motivated by fear of famine was no longer the primary agricultural organization unit. Instead, large commercial farming operations took over using more advanced farming methods and new crops. This created a surplus of food allowing more and more farm workers to migrate to towns and start working in new industries. A numerous new labor force was in place to fuel the development of an industrialized society. The Industrial Revolution would not have been possible without technological changes, including inventions of machines and new methods of production.
In its initial phases, the Industrial Revolution was mainly limited to Britain. The British were keen on preserving their leading position, and therefore they did not allow the export of the new machinery, skilled workers or manufacturing techniques. This situation could not last forever. Continental Europe, primarily Belgium and France sought to bring the industrialization to their countries. At the same time, British businessman also saw lucrative industrial opportunities abroad. Thus, the process of change did not stay confined to Britain for long. Belgium was the first country on European mainland which had their economy transformed by the Industrial Revolution after the first machine shops were developed in Liege. France came aboard more slowly with industrial changes in that country having to wait for the political climate to change. The political situation in France before 1848 was unstable and discouraging for significant investments to be made in technical improvements. The industrialization of Germany only began after the country was united in 1870, but when it finally started, it grew at a staggering pace, surpassing that of Britain, particularly in steelworks and chemical industries. The United States was also late to start but became a much stronger industrial power than any European country in the course of the 19th and 20th centuries. Japan also joined the Industrial Revolution with great success, while Eastern European countries lingered behind until the five-year plans were put in place in the 20th century. In the 1950s the Industrial Revolution spread to Asia, to previously non-industrialized countries like India and China.
The textile industry saw the most significant progress. It was here that the modern production methods were first put in place. Mechanized cotton spinning driven by steam or water made it possible to mass produce cotton cloth in Britain. The cloths were of inferior quality to those handwoven by Indian low-wage labor, but it prevailed due to the high production rates of British textile manufacturing.
The iron industry saw wood and other bio-fuels replaced with coal during the Industrial Revolution. Further advances included the development of a stationary steam engine and machine tools made of metal such as the planing machine, the milling machine, the shaping machine, to name but a few. The chemical industry was also significantly affected, and so was agriculture which experienced ever increasing productivity levels with the use of industrial technologies such as the seed drill, the Dutch plow containing iron parts and the threshing machine. In the late 19th century there was already a mass-production of agricultural equipment.
Transportation was another area of vast improvement during the Industrial Revolution. A turnpike road network was established, along with the canal and waterway network and a railway network. Steam locomotives became widely used.
Along with developing large domestic markets for the mass-produced commodities, international trade was also blooming, made possible by the 17th-century European colonial expansion. The surplus of goods was exchanged in an open market making nations like Great Britain, France, and the United States ever richer and allowing them to control the worldwide trade for years to come.