Industrial Revolution

1625 Words4 Pages
The most far-reaching, influential transformation of human culture since the advent of agriculture eight or ten thousand years ago, was the industrial revolution of eighteenth century Europe. The consequences of this revolution would change irrevocably human labor, consumption, family structure, social structure, and even the very soul and thoughts of the individual. This revolution involved more than technology; to be sure, there had been industrial "revolutions" throughout European history and non-European history. In Europe, for instance, the twelfth and thirteenth centuries saw an explosion of technological knowledge and a consequent change in production and labor. However, the industrial revolution was more than technology-impressive as this technology was. What drove the industrial revolution were profound social changes, as Europe moved from a primarily agricultural and rural economy to a capitalist and urban economy, from a household, family-based economy to an industry-based economy. This required rethinking social obligations and the structure of the family; the abandonment of the family economy, for instance, was the most dramatic change to the structure of the family that Europe had ever undergone-and we're still struggling with these changes. In 1750, the European economy was overwhelmingly an agricultural economy. The land was owned largely by wealthy and frequently aristocratic landowners; they leased the land to tenant farmers who paid for the land in real goods that they grew or produced. Most non-agricultural goods were produced by individual families that specialized in one set of skills: wagon-wheel manufacture, for instance. Most capitalist activity focused on mercantile activity rather than production; there was, however, a growing manufacturing industry growing up around the logic of mercantilism. The European economy, though, had become a global economy. In our efforts to try to explain why the Industrial Revolution took place, the globalization of the European economy is a compelling explanation. European trade and manufacture stretched to every continent except Antarctica; this vast increase in the market for European goods in part drove the conversion to an industrial, manufacturing economy. Why other nations didn't initially join this revolution is in part explained by the monopolistic control that the Europeans exerted... ... middle of paper ... ...ine in 1763; this cooling chamber condensed the steam so the cylinder itself didn't have to be cooled. Patented in 1769, Watt's steam engine had the efficiency to be applied to all kinds of industries. He was not, however, good at doing busines and it was only when he had teamed up with the businessman, Matthew Boulton, that the steam engine began to change the face of English manufacture. By 1800, Watt and Boulton sold 289 of these new engines; by the middle of the next century, the steam engine replaced water as the major source of motive power in England and Europe. The changes that the steam engine wrought, however, is a story for another day. And it is here, with 289 steam engines pumping and steaming around England that we'll leave the story of the Industrial Revolution-half-completed, you might say. The nineteenth century saw the exporting of the Industrial Revolution to Europe in the decades after 1830, and the explosion of factory-based, technology driven manufacture. The Age of Absolutism and the waning years of the Enlightenment saw Europe just beginning a new phase in its history, one that would irreperably severe it from the traditions and certainties of the past.
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