• Industrial Revolution, in modern history, is the process of change from an agrarian and handicraft economy to one dominated by industry and machine manufacturing. This process began in Britain 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 (1852-83) to describe Britain’s economic development from 1760 to 1840.
  • It was a period during which predominantly agrarian, rural societies in Europe and America became industrial and urban. Prior to the Industrial Revolution, manufacturing was often done in people’s homes, using hand tools or basic machines. Industrialization marked a shift to powered, special-purpose machinery, factories and mass production.
  • The iron and textile industries, along with the development of the steam engine, played central roles in the Industrial Revolution, which also saw improved systems of transportation, communication and banking. While industrialization brought about an increased volume and variety of manufactured goods and an improved standard of living for some, it also resulted in often grim employment and living conditions for the poor and working classes.
Industrial Revolution

Changes that Led to Industrial Revolution

  • The main features involved in the Industrial Revolution were technological, socioeconomic, and cultural. The technological changes included the following:
    • The use of new basic materials, chiefly iron and steel,
    • 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,
    • 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,
    • A new organization of work known as the factory system, which entailed increased division of labour and specialization of function,
    • Important developments in transportation and communication, including the steam locomotive, steamship, automobile, airplane, telegraph, and radio, and
    • 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 non-industrial spheres, including the following:
    • Agricultural improvements that made possible the provision of food for a larger non-agricultural population,
    • 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,
    • Political changes reflecting the shift in economic power, as well as new state policies corresponding to the needs of an industrialized society,
    • Sweeping social changes, including the growth of cities, the development of working-class movements, and the emergence of new patterns of authority, and
    • Cultural transformations of a broad order. Workers acquired new and distinctive skills, and their relation to their tasks shifted ; instead of being craftsmen working with hand tools, they became machine operators, subject to factory discipline.
  • Finally, there was a psychological change: confidence in the ability to use resources and to master nature was heightened.

Associated Revolutions

Agriculture Revolutions

  • The term agricultural revolution refers to the radical changes in the method of agriculture in England in the 17th and 18th centuries. There was a massive increase in agricultural productivity, which supported the growing population. The Agricultural Revolution preceded the Industrial Revolution in England.
  • During the Agricultural Revolution, four key changes took place in agricultural practices. They were
    • enclosure of lands,
    • mechanization of farming,
    • four-field crop rotation, and
    • selective breeding of domestic animals.
  • Prior to the agricultural revolution, the practice of agriculture had been much the same across Europe since the Middle Ages. The open field system was essentially feudal. Each farmer engaged in cultivation in common land and dividing the produce.
  • From the beginning of 12th century, some of the common fields in Britain were enclosed into individually owned fields. This process rapidly accelerated in the 15th and 16th centuries as sheep farming grew more profitable. This led to farmers losing their land and their grazing rights. Many farmers became unemployed.
  • In the 16th and 17th centuries, the practice of enclosure was denounced by the Church, and legislation was drawn up against it. However, the mechanization of agriculture during the 18th century required large, enclosed fields. This led to a series of government acts, culminating finally in the General Enclosure Act of 1801. By the end of the 19th century the process of enclosure was largely complete.
  • Great experiments were conducted in farming during this period. Machines were introduced for seeding and harvesting. Rotation of crops was introduced by Charles Townshend. The lands became fertile by this method.
  • Bakewell introduced scientific breeding of farm animals. The horse-drawn ploughs, rake, portable threshers, manure spreaders, multiple ploughs and dairy appliances had revolutionized farming. These changes in agriculture increased food production as well as other farm outputs.

Demographic Revolution

  • In 1740s, England witnessed a remarkable growth in her population. This was called as Demographic Revolution (DR).
  • So the demand for the commodities increased, this motivated British manufacturers to increase production.

Innovation and Industrialization

  • The textile industry, in particular, was transformed by industrialization. Before mechanization and factories, textiles were made mainly in people’s homes (giving rise to the term cottage industry), with merchants often providing the raw materials and basic equipment, and then picking up the finished product. Workers set their own schedules under this system, which proved difficult for merchants to regulate and resulted in numerous inefficiencies.
  • In the 1700s , a series of innovations led to ever-increasing productivity, while requiring less human energy. For example, around 1764, Englishman James Hargreaves ( 1722-1778 ) invented the spinning jenny (‘jenny’ was an early abbreviation of the word ‘engine’), a machine that enabled an individual to produce multiple spools of threads simultaneously.
  • Another key innovation in textiles , the power loom, which mechanized the process of weaving cloth, was developed in the 1780s by English inventor Edmund Cartwright ( 1743- 1823).
  • Developments in the iron industry also played a central role in the Industrial Revolution. Both iron and steel became essential materials, used to make everything from appliances, tools and machines, to ships, buildings and infrastructure.
  • The steam engine was also integral to industrialization. By the 1770s, the steam engine went on to power machinery, locomotives and ships during the Industrial Revolution.

Transportation and Industrial Revolution

  • The transportation industry also underwent significant transformation during the Industrial Revolution. Before the advent of the steam engine, raw materials and finished goods were hauled and distributed via horse-drawn wagons, and by boats along canals and rivers.
  • In the early 1800s, American Robert Fulton built the first commercially successful steamboat, and by the mid- 19th century, steamships were carrying freight across the Atlantic. In the early 1800s, British engineer Richard Trevithick constructed the first railway steam locomotive. In 1830, England’s Liverpool and Manchester Railway became the first to offer regular, time-tabled passenger services.
  • By 1850, Britain had more than 6,000 miles of railroad track. Additionally, around 1820, Scottish engineer John McAdam (1756-1836) developed a new process for road construction which made roads smoother, more durable and less muddy.

Communication and Banking

  • Communication became easier during the Industrial Revolution with such inventions as the telegraph. A blind English man Rolland Hill (1795-1879) started a system in 1840, through which anybody could send a letter to any place in Great Britain by affixing a one-pence stamp on the letter. In 1844, Samuel Morse invented telegraph machine. In 1876, under water telegraphy was introduced for connectivity between two continents. Underwater cable was laid between North America and Europe and was called ‘Atlantic Cable’. In 1876, Graham Bell invented telephone which revolutionized communication.
  • The Industrial Revolution also saw the rise of banks and industrial financiers, as well as a factory system dependent on owners and managers. A stock exchange was established in London in the 1770s; the New York Stock Exchange was founded in the early 1790s.
  • In 1776, Scottish social philosopher Adam Smith, who is regarded as the founder of modern economics, published The Wealth of Nations’, which promoted an economic system based on free enterprise, the private ownership of means of production, and lack of government interference.

Quality of Life during Industrialization

  • The Industrial Revolution brought about a greater volume and variety of factory-produced goods and raised the standard of living for many people, particularly for the middle and upper classes. However, life for the poor and working classes continued to be filled with challenges.
  • Wages for those who labored in factories were low and working conditions could be dangerous and monotonous. Unskilled workers had little job security and were easily replaceable. Children were part of the labor force and often worked long hours and were used for such highly hazardous tasks as cleaning the machinery.
  • Industrialization also meant that some craftsman were replaced by machines. Additionally, urban, industrialized areas were unable to keep pace with the flow of arriving workers from the countryside, resulting in inadequate, overcrowded housing and polluted, unsanitary living conditions in which disease was rampant. Conditions for Britain’s working-class began to gradually improve by the later part of the 19th century, as the government instituted various labor reforms and workers gained the right to form trade unions.

Industrial Revolution in England

Reasons for Industrial Revolution in England

  • Availability of Capital: The vast amount of capital which England had accumulated out of profits of her growing trade enabled her to make large outlays on machinery and buildings, which in turn contributed to new technological developments. In addition England also possessed a large amount of loanable capital obtained by the bank of England from the rich trade of other countries. Another source of capital for England was her huge colonial possessions.
  • Innovation and Scientific Inventions: The Industrial Revolution was stimulated by a number of inventions and developments by British scientists. These inventions were encouraged by freedom of thought. Britain was receptive to intellectual developments from Europe. British thought was secular, rational and focused on science and development. This freedom of thought allowed British scientists to develop new technologies.
  • Large Colonial Territories: England had established her extensive colonial empire. In the race for colonisation , France and other states lagged behind. Colonies provided raw materials and new markets to England. England enjoyed monopoly over sea trading. It had the best ports situated on key commercial routes.
  • Available Market for Consumption: Towards the middle of the century, a population boom combined with a demand abroad for the products led to the demand needed for a revolution to happen.
  • Available Labor Force: Towards the end of 18th century, an epidemic ‘Black death’ broke out in England and lakhs of people died. England became short of farmers and labourers. Thousands of farmers left their villages and came to cities to seek jobs. Due to technological advancements in agriculture also, during early 17th century, many farmers were displaced who started looking for jobs. It increased the number of workers in cities. And they started opening their independent industries.
  • Social and Political Stability:
    • Britain boasted a remarkably stable government, especially when compared to that of other European nations, who were only beginning to arise from the turmoil created due to over a century of warfare. Other European nations, such as France, Russia and Germany lacked governmental stability due to wars and were more focused on reestablishing their states than industrializing.
    • The social stability prevailing in England encouraged the people to invest in sectors where they could hope to receive high dividend in future. This led to the adoption of new techniques and promotion of new industries.
  • Availability of Coal and Iron: Britain had huge deposits of both iron and coal, both of which were instrumental to industrialization in general. Iron was used in essentially every tool and machine while coal was utilized to fuel furnaces and factories. With the introduction of the steam engine, coal became even more significant in the industrial process because it fueled locomotives and steamships, both of which were important assets in efficiently transporting goods.
  • Protectionist Policy of British Government: Various local taxes and octroi were levied in other European countries but England did not put such barriers. Because of policy of protectionism adopted by British government, trade and industries flourished there.
  • Presence of Enterprising People:
    • The technological changes in England were made possible because of the presence of a sizable section of people who possessed enterprising spirit and requisite technical qualities.
    • Further this class of people were accustomed to handling large enterprises and labour force; were willing to invest money for the discovery of new techniques and give a fair trial to these techniques.
  • Risk Taking Private Sector: The presence of the sizable private sector in a country with great capacity of individual businessmen to take risk also greatly contributed to Industrial revolution. These businessmen were willing to take chances on new things. In this they were also supported by the government.
  • Better Means of Transport: England possessed a far better means of transportation than any other country in Europe which greatly helped the Industrial revolution. In this task the government played an important role which spent considerable amount on the improvement of roads and construction of canals.
  • Geographical Location:
    • Being cut off from the mainland of Europe, England remained immune from the wars and upheavals of Napoleonic conflicts and conditions remained quite stable in the country. These stable conditions enabled England to develop its industrial capacity without fear of battle, damage or loss of life.
    • Britain’s climate and geography also benefitted their sheep industry and agricultural industry which increased food productions and allowed people to work in the industry.
  • Some Other Factors: Unlike France and other countries, serfdom and class system had already been abolished in England. It had an atmosphere useful for the promotion of trade and commerce.

Spread of Industrial Revolution

  • In the period between 1760 and 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 and John Cockerill, brought the Industrial Revolution to Belgium by developing machine shops at Liege (c . 1807), and Belgium became the first country in continental Europe to be transformed economically. Like its British 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 Britain.
  • 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 out producing 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 .

Industrialization in Other Countries

United States of America

  • After independence, the USA moved towards industrialization in a phased manner. By the civil war (1861- 65), the USA had become an industrialised nation with the highest Gross National Product (GNP) in the world.
  • In the beginning it had to face the following main difficulties in the way of industrialization: lack of capital, shortage of skilled labour, underdeveloped means of transport and ignorance about machines. But because of abundance of natural resources, political stability, government protection and the effort of adventurous entrepreneurs, it soon overcame these difficulties and made rapid progress.
  • The main areas were:


  • Progress in agriculture provided a strong base to American industrialisation.
  • There was a growing demand for the American cotton in the industrial market.
  • Harvester and Thresher were invented.
  • Rotation of crops was introduced.
  • Animal husbandry progressed. Automatic machines were used for cutting and packing meat. Thus, processed food industry considerably grew.
  • All these made US a top agricultural country.

Transportation and Communication

  • Expansion of transportation and communication played an important role in the economic progress of USA .
  • Rapid change was seen in the period between 1789 and 1862.
  • Several roads were converted into highways before the end of 18th C. AD.
  • In 1825, the longest canal Eirie was built. It connected Albany with Buffalo.

Textile Industry

  • Samuel Slater was the founder oftextile industry in America who was called from Britain to set up a spinning jenny and a water frame.
  • South New England became the centre of textile industry because the merchants here readily invested their capital in factories and farmers and their families were willing to work in them.
  • The factors responsible for this progress were expanding population, custom protection and change in people ’s taste.

Iron and Steel

  • Iron and steel is the basis of industrialization.
  • In Pennsylvania, the industry developed rapidly as both iron ore and coal were available in plenty.
  • Several factories for manufacturing guns and weapons were set up.
  • USA adopted the new techniques developed in Britain of iron and steel production.
  • Iron and steel were also used for manufacturing Franklin stoves, water pipes and electric poles etc.


  • Industrial revolution in Germany began in 1845 and Berlin, Hamburg, Prague , Vienna were connected by railway lines.
  • By 1870 production of iron and steel reached a high point. Several textile mills were set up between 1850 and 1880.
  • Transport system was improved.
  • Mechanization of industries continued and by 1900 Germany was ready for the takeoff and soon Prussia attained economic leadership.
  • Capital investment increased rapidly after 1870 and the population of Germany reached 6.5 million by 1910.
  • Before World War I, Germany became an industrial rival of Britain. It left all countries behind in the use of chemicals in agriculture and of science in steel industry.
  • In the production of iron and steel, it ranked 2nd after America. Electric goods industry also made rapid progress and enjoyed 50% share in international market.
  • The causes of this amazing industrial progress were availability of social capital and its use for building roads, ports, canals and railway lines; expansion of technical education, intelligent use of inventions made in other countries, network of banks and emergence of cartels which maintained the growth rate of the capital and kept the rate of profit high and finally the excellent condition of agriculture.


  • Although it had rich deposits of iron and coal but industrial revolution reached Russia very late because it did not have a good currency system, lacked adequate capital and serfdom still continued there.
  • Serfs were freed in 1861 and government invited foreign capitalists to invest in industries.
  • The industrial output of Russia rapidly increased between 1860 and 1910.
  • During this period, production of iron ore increased tremendously but the engineering industry remained stagnant.
  • By 1917, Railways was given more importance and rail network increased to 81000 km.
  • More progress was made by Moscow, St. Petersburg and Ukraine.
  • Reforms benefitted only a small segment of population. So Russia had all ingredients of becoming an economic power but this was checked by clash of class interests and discontent among the people.
  • Lenin’s new economic policy prepared the ground for future development. This policy was continued for 1928 and with the help of five-year plans efforts were made to accelerate economic development.
  • The 1st five year plan 1928-1932 laid emphasis on collective farming. The government advanced loans to farmers, supplied them machines and chemical fertilizers on favourable terms and allowed them rebate in taxes.
  • The soviet state bought food grains from collective farms at cheaper rates and sold them at higher prices. The difference was utilised for expanding industrialisation.
  • One of the drawbacks of economic development during this period was that to meet the targets, the quality of products was compromised. Emphasis on heavy industries created shortage of consumer goods and people had to face rationing and other problems.


  • The Meiji Era (1868 -1912) may be regarded as epoch making in the history of Japan. It was during this period that modernisation of the country took place.
  • Japan progressed rapidly after signing of treaty of Kanagawa. In July 1853, the US representative, Commodore Matthew Calbraith Perry , signed the Treaty of Kanagawa with the Japanese government, opening the ports of Shimoda and Hakodate to American trade and permitting the establishment of a U.S. consulate in Japan making the United States the first Western nation to establish relations with Japan since it was declared closed to foreigners in 1683.
  • The monetary system was organised and nationalised.
  • In 1887 , Yokohama Gold and Silver Banks were established to procure capital for foreign trade.
  • Development of Banking system and foreign trade transformed the economy of Japan.
  • The government subsidised and encouraged indigenous shipbuilding industry.
  • As a result, by the beginning of 10th century, Japan secured foremost position in shipbuilding in the world.
  • In 1869, first telegraph line was laid between Tokyo and Yokohama by Mr. Brunton. In 1871, New postal system was introduced in Japan.
  • Agricultural reforms were introduced after the reinstallation of Meiji which were: peasants were made owners of land they had been tilling for years; agriculture colleges were opened etc. This further helped Japan in advancing its economy and making Japan the first Asian country to develop.


  • Civil war broke out in China by the end of World War II and it became a communist country after the revolution of 1949.
    • The ownership of the land was given to the farmers and that is how the communist won the popularity among masses.
    • China took the help of USSR to modernize its economy and developed shipbuilding industry, organized its air force and rejuvenated its mining activity. Old industries were renovated, means of transport developed and inflation controlled.
    • The People’s Bank of China was established to deal with loans and money matters.
    • Land was redistributed among the poor and farmers were liberated from exploitation. Land was pooled to make large farms.
    • Commune system was introduced which aimed to bring China closer to communism.
    • Chinese economy had been socialised to a large extent. Important industries such as petroleum, transport, steel, and communication were nationalised.
    • For industrial development, 1st five year plan was initiated. The industrial output recorded an increase of 141% , capital 320% and consumer goods 86% and Chinese goods captured a large market in East Asia.

Effects of Industrial Revolution

  • The Industrial revolution in the words of Ramsay Muir was ‘mighty and silent upheaval’ which brought the most momentous change in the condition of human life. Though essentially an economic revolution, it brought significant changes in the social, political and other spheres.
  • The trend of economy moved from village to city, from agriculture to industry, from inaction to progress, from small scale to large scale and from national frontiers to international frontiers. In fact no other event in human history of mankind so profoundly affected the human life as the Industrial revolution.

Economic Effects

  • It produced far reaching consequences in the economic sphere. In the first place it greatly contributed to the process of humanity through increased production of goods. New factories and workshop came into existence, and produced goods in large quantities with the help of machines.
    • These factories operated on the principle of division of labour with each labourer concentrating on some stage of production rather than whole process of production. This not only reduced the cost of goods but also improved their quality.
    • Thus industrial revolution made supply of quality goods at cheap rates possible.
  • It led to the rise of industrial capitalism and finance capitalism. Before industrial revolution goods were produced at home with the help of simple and cheap tools which did not need much capital. But with the installation of big machines huge capital were needed and a class of capitalist made its appearance .
  • Thus, the independent worker became a wage earner, selling his labour to another, and forced to sell it , if he would avoid starvation. Under the factory system women and children became competitors of the men, as they could tend the machines in most industries as well as the men, and would accept lower wages. This dislocation of family from the home to the factory brought with it many evils and abuses, as did also the long hours of labour, the frequent lack of employment, owing to causes which the worker could not control, such as bad management of the business.
  • Economic crisis was the inevitable effect of capitalistic economy thus leading to the economic depressions of 1825, 1837 ,1847, 1857, 1866 , 1873, 1888 , 1890, 1900 , 1907 , 1930.
  • The industrial revolution provided a boost to trade and commerce. Due to introduction of machines and division of labour, the production of goods increased so much that they could not be consumed by the home market or even by the neighbouring countries. Therefore industrial nations began to look for world markets where their goods could be sold. This resulted in enhancement of trade and commerce, which encouraged Colonisation .
  • By bringing the workers together it inevitably led them to organise into unions for the protection and improvement of their individual and collective interests.

Social Effects

  • In the social sphere also the Industrial revolution produced far reaching consequences. In the first place, the growth of factory system resulted in the growth of new cities. Workers shifted to places near the factories where they were employed. This resulted in the growth of a number of new cities like Leeds, Manchester, Birmingham etc in Britain, which soon became the centre for industry, trade and commerce.
  • The rise of cities was accompanied by growth of slums. Before the advent of industrial revolution, the industries were scattered throughout the country .
  • Artisans generally worked in their cottages or shops and were not entirely dependent on trade for their livelihood. They often combined manufacturing and agriculture. This was not possible after the growth of factories as workers had to live at places near to factory. This lead to migration on a large scale from villages to cities and it was a threat to joint family system.
  • As a large number of workers had to be provided accommodation, long rows of small one room houses without garden or other facilities were built. With the emergence of new factories and growth in population the problem assumed more serious dimension. In the dark, dingy and dirty houses the workers fell easy prey to various types of diseases and often died premature death.
  • The extremely low wages paid by the factory owners made it difficult for them to make both ends meet. As a consequence they were often obliged to send their women and children to factories, where they were work on extremely low wages. The industrialists preferred women and children because they were easy to manage.
  • Exploitation of workers especially of women and children resulted in stunted bodies, deformed backs, horribly twisted legs etc. They had to work for 14 to 16 hours. This led to the rise of trade unions. Power of middle class unfolded, power of workers grew. They began to demand respect and fundamental rights. Women also raised demand.
  • The conditions of factory life were not conducive to healthy family life. Women were required to work for long hours and they were hardly left with any time or energy to look after their household or children. Further, as they lived in extremely congested quarters they also lost their qualities of modesty and virtue. Often women and children got addicted to alcohol and made their life a miserable one.
  • Industrial revolution led to sharp divisions in society. The society got divided into classes – the bourgeoisie and the proletariat. The former consisted of factory owners, great bankers, small industrialists, merchants and professional men. They gathered great wealth and paid very low wages to workers. The other class consisted of labourers who merely worked as tools in the factories.
  • With the passage of time the lot of the capitalist classes went on improving and that of the working classes went on deteriorating. This caused great social disharmony, and gave rise to the conflict between the capitalists and workers.

Political Effects

  • In the political sphere also, industrial revolution had manifold impact. In the first place it led to the colonisation of Asia and Africa. Great Britain and other industrial countries of Europe began to look for new colonies which could supply them necessary raw materials for feeding their industries and also serve as ready market for their finished industrial products .
  • Therefore, the industrial countries carved out extensive colonial empires in the 19th century. These countries added so much of the territories to their empire that one historian has described it as “the greatest land grab movement in the history of the world.” It is well known that the colonialism produced adverse effects on the locals and resulted in their exploitation.
    • However, it cannot be denied that it also paved the way for the modernisation of these territories because the Europeans set up certain industrial units in these areas.
  • Industrial revolution sharply divided the countries. The industrially advanced countries which possessed necessary finances and skill, invested their surplus capital in backward countries and fully exploited their resources and crippled their industries. Thus the world came to be divided into two groups- the developed and the underdeveloped world, which is a cause of great tension even at present.
  • As a result of Industrial Revolution, a large number of Europeans went across the oceans and settled down in America and Australia and contributed to the Europeanisation of these countries. It has been estimated that as against 145,000 people which left Europe in 1820s, over 9 million people left Europe between 1900 and 1910.
  • It also provided the boost to the reform movements in England. Many factory laws were enacted to improve the lot of the workers between 1833-45 which tried to limit the working hours for children under eleven years of age to nine hours a day and that of women to 12 hours a day. These Acts also prohibited employment of children in mines and laid down general rules for the health and safety of workers.
  • With the setting up of factories in northern part of England larger number of people shifted from south and their population greatly declined. However, these populated cities continued to send same number of representatives to the parliament whereas the new industrial towns were not represented in the parliament. This led to the demand of redistribution of seats. A movement known as Chartist movement began to demand reforms for improving the lot of workers and for introduction of universal suffrage, secret voting, equal electoral districts, no property qualifications for membership, payment of members, and annual elections. In this way we can say that the industrial revolution strengthened forces of democracy in England.

Ideological Effects

  • Industrial revolution left a remarkable effect on economic ideology also. In the 18th century, liberalism which was based on the principle of individual liberty prevailed in Europe.
  • Liberalism was a political concept and involved constitutionalism, supremacy of the public, equality of all before law, religious tolerance and understanding of nationalism. Industrial revolution in England added the principle of non-interference by the state in economic affairs.
    • Adam Smith subscribed to the policy of laissez-faire and pointed out the useless role of state’s control over trade and commerce.
    • David Ricardo maintained that every national economy is based on certain eternal laws and the ‘Iron law of Wages’ is one of them. According to this law, it is not possible for a worker to earn more than his livelihood.
  • The British government formulated its economic policies on the basis of laissez-faire. British Industrialists also welcomed those policies because the system of capitalism based on free competition enjoyed their support.
  • The spirit of public welfares and efforts for improving the condition of workers gave birth to socialism. Socialism aimed at establishing equality in society.
    • The ultimate goal of socialism was to eliminate class struggle and form a classless society. In order to achieve these objectives, government’s control over production and distribution of important things was considered necessary.
    • Socialism has Three Pillars
      • It criticizes modern industrial civilization-private capitalism.
      • It is the voice of all workers and working class.
      • Demands a just distribution of wealth.

Industrial Revolution: A Critical Analysis


  • Urbanisation: The factory system introduced by the Industrial Revolution created cities and urban centres. In England , cities like Manchester, Birmingham , Leeds, and Sheffield arose . People left their rural homes and gathered around these cities by the hundreds and thousands in quest of work and wages. The population of Manchester increased six fold within a half century.
  • Machinery: The introduction of power machinery rapidly increased production of goods.
  • Intellectual Movement: The intellectual encouragement had also been great . Schools, colleges , newspapers , libraries, and the radio had been dependent on the capitalistic system for their rapid development. Many intellectuals like Marx , St. Simon emerged as a result of the Industrial Revolution.
  • Large Employment: The starting of new industries provided employment to many men and women.


  • New Social Problems: The rapid growth of industrial cities created problems that were difficult to solve . Accommodation, sanitation, and health were not provided adequately. Sickness and crime prevailed. Women and children were employed for cheap labour. They worked for 12 to 14 hours per day.
  • Capitalism: The establishment of the factory system increased the amount of money in circulation. However , money concentrated in the hands of a few people.
  • Class Division: The Industrial Revolution divided society into two distinct groups: the rich middle class ( bourgeoisie), composed of manufacturers, merchants , mine owners, bankers, and professional men, on the one hand, and the wage-earning class (proletariat) , composed of mill workers and factory workers, on the other . This gap between employer and employee gave rise to many economic and social problems .
  • Growth of Colonialism and Imperialism: The Industrial Revolution had strengthened colonialism because the colonies were useful to obtain raw materials and sell the finished products. So, larger territories were captured thus paving way for imperialism.


  • The Industrial Revolution of the mid of 18th century while transforming the textile production through the series of innovations and with its concomitant socio-political and global effects paved the path for another phase of Industrial revolution (also known as Second Industrial Revolution) in the mid of 19th century .

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