1) Opening Vignette a) Mahatma Gandhi criticized industrialization as economic exploitation. 1. few people have agreed with him 2. every kind of society has embraced at least the idea of industrialization since it started in Great Britain in the late eighteenth century b) The Industrial Revolution was one of the most significant elements of Europe’s modern transformation. i) initial industrialization period was 1750–1900 ii) drew on the Scientific Revolution iii) utterly transformed European society iv) pushed Europe into a position of global dominance v) was more fundamental than any breakthrough since the Agricultural Revolution c) We don’t know where we are in the industrial era—at the beginning, in the middle, or at the end.
2) Explaining the Industrial Revolution a) At the heart of the Industrial Revolution lay a great acceleration in the rate of technological innovation, leading to enormous increases in the output of goods and services. i) use of new energy sources (steam engines, petroleum engines) ii) in Britain, output increased some fiftyfold in the period 1750–1900 iii) based on a “culture of innovation” iv) before 1750/1800, the major Eurasian civilizations were about equal technologically v) greatest breakthrough was the steam engine a. soon spread from the textile industry to many other types of production b. agriculture was transformed vi) spread from Britain to Western Europe, then to the United States, Russia, and Japan 1) became global in the twentieth century b) Why Europe? i) many scholars have debated why industrialization appeared first in Great Britain, and why it started in the late nineteenth century 1) older views: there’s something unique about European society ii) that view has been challenged by: 1) the fact that other parts of the world have had times of great technological and scientific flourishing i. Islamic world 750–1100 c.e. ii. India was the center of cotton textile production and source of many agricultural innovations iii. China led the world in technological innovation between 700 and 1400 c.e. iv. all had slowed or stagnated by the early modern era a. the fact that Europe did not enjoy any overall economic advantage as late as 1750 i. across Eurasia, life expectancy, consumption and nutrition patterns, wage levels, living standards, etc., were broadly similar in the eighteenth century b. the rapid spread of industrial techniques to much of the world in the past 250 years 1. contemporary historians tend to see the Industrial Revolution as a rather quick and unexpected eruption in the period 1750–1850 2. why it might have occurred in Europe a. some patterns of European internal development favored innovation i. small, highly competitive states b. European rulers had an unusual alliance with merchant classes i. groups of merchant capitalists were often granted special privileges ii. it was in governments’ interest to encourage commerce and innovation iii. in Venice and Holland, merchants controlled the state 3. other societies developed market-based economies by the eighteenth century (e.g., Japan, India, and China) a. but Europe was at the center of the most varied exchange network b. contact with culturally different peoples encouraged change and innovation i. quest for the products and ideas of Asia ii. competition with Indian cotton cloth