Why the industrial revolution started in britain ?
There has been a lot of research carried out to find out why the Industrial Revolution started in Britain in the mid-1700s and later on in Western Europe. It was the cause of the most important changes in technology, society and economy. Europe was already richer than other world regions and it provided that need for the investment in new technological discoveries. Europe was full of competition at the time, each country wanting to be the best.
The Industrial Revolution saw through the change from manual labour to mechanical devices due to a multitude of technological advancements. We can see this mostly where steam power took over man power.
New machines where first used in coal mines and textiles. These techniques spread like wild fire to other areas around the towns. One of these advancements was the use of steam to power transportation devices. This increased the railroad system's efficiency and reliability, bringing the nation together into one whole market, introducing globalization and encouraging changes in steel, iron and communication facilities.
This revolution also had a great impact on other sectors in society such as politics and culture. The meaning of culture was changed drastically because of the new job openings and great increase in production of goods. The meaning of a job was evolving for many people, a lot of which benefitted from improvements in family income. On the other hand, the introduction of factories meant the loss of craftsmanship. The repetitive motions of the machines removes all mastery and satisfaction from labour.
Everyone's life style and standard of living was now based on the technological advancements in society. Now there was a large variety of goods to satisfy everyone's tastes and needs. Most people could now afford to own their own equipment and tools which were previously only affordable by the wealthier of classes prior to this revolution. This revolution was the main element in the spreading of wealth in those times.
The revolution in transportation meant that people could now travel further than ever before. Here a whole new commerce was introduced in the form of travelling. This helps in changing cultural norms and values too as people where mixing with different societies.
The most important virtues where staying out of debt and saving what you earned. This all changed, as after the Industrial Revolution, the main word was consumption. If people didn't buy goods off store shelves, then the shop owner wouldn't have to order stock from the factory and so people would be made redundant from the factory and this would close down. The only way to stop this from happening was to teach people how to become intensive customers by purchasing all that say, even if they did not need it.
This need to constantly buy something was spurred by the advertising industry which did its best to improve its techniques in creating new needs for the people of the time. This was done by using emotions and sex appeal.
Britain before the Industrial Revolution
Industrialisation introduced many new modes of transportation, namely roads and trains. Before this revolution it was very hard to contact people from other parts of the country, this was now made possible because of advancements in communications. News was no longer brought to people by messengers and goods could now be distributed to localities other than that where they were produced.
Since it was so hard to get from one place to another, people had to rely solely on their neighbours to provide them with their needs. Everything was made locally, even food and clothes, using animal hides and furs. Most of the people of the time were farmers. The Feudal System was totally abolished by the 18th century and this was replaced by people relying on each other, rather than a master.
Only a few people where those fortunate enough to have goods imported through ports in London and Bristol from the Elizabethan Age onwards. All that was manufactured was made from natural elements alone.
Since the people were poor, so was the education offered to the children. It was only the rich who could afford nannies and private tutors. All universities and schools were not accessible by average income families. Landownership was the key to politics.
Britain after the Industrial Revolution
As McCloskey said in 1981,
"In the eighty years or so after 1780 the population of Britain nearly tripled, the towns of Liverpool and Manchester became gigantic cities, the average income of the population more than doubled, the share of farming fell from just under a half to just under a fifth of the nation's output, and the making of textiles and iron moved into steam-driven factories.”
The Industrial Revolution lead to a great increase in the amount of people being employed manufactoring goods, mainly textiles, iron and metal goods for various markets. This is how tonws and cities were formed. The workers moved closer to their job and less than a third now lived in the countryside earning their living off the land.
By the early 1700s, more than two thirds of the labour forse had been in agriculture, but now towns and cities were growing at a very fast rate. This was because of the increasing rates of population which was brought about by industrialisation.
During and after the industrial revolution, population and economic growth were able work hand in hand in the long term, unlike what has happened before, where when there was an increase in population, there was always a decrease in economic growth. However, during and after the industrial revolution, both population and economy were able to grow together.
Poverty walked with disease and death in industrial Britain during the first half of the nineteenth century. Hard working conditions, long hours of working, poor diet, overcrowded poor housing and inadequate sanitary arrangements made poor health and early death inevitable mostly for the lower classes.
One specific city which has been through vast amounts of study was Manchester. A number of important people such the literary man Robert Southey,medical luminaries like Dr James Phillips Kayand social scientists likeFriedrich Engels studied these problems.
Housing conditions and the health of the public during the middle years of the Industrial Revolution cannot be separated. However, it was only when a deadly cholera epidemic spread in Manchester's poor areas that Kay and his associates were able to do something to change the housing and sanitary conditions in the inner city. They did not know how cholera spread and were only examining ways of combating this disease. They firmly believed that, only by relieving the conditions that prevailed in the worst city slums would make it possible to cure the instability that was threatening the rest of the city. However, the opportunity to take decisive action was lost. Engels, exploring these same areas of Manchester by night 12 years later, found only little change in these circumstances.
The Industrial Revolution in Literature
Many 19th century writers had a pond of resources when it came to writing because of the growth that was brought about by the Industrial revolution in the 1700s. These works include essays, fiction and poetry which reflect the advancements in technology, labour and increase in population. Thomas Carlyle, a Scottish intellect, dabbed this era as the “Mechanical Age”. The likes of John Ruskin, Henry Adams, and Carlyle studied the cultural changes due to the Machine. On the other hand, novelists from Charles Dickens and Rebecca Harding Davis through to Herman Melville wrote about this period more realistically from the workers' point of view. The artist finally had a role in this type of world, this was proven by William Wordsworth and Walt Whitman.
By the end of the 1700s, the advancing technology was being viewed through a different light by the early romantics. Friedrich Schiller's‘Letters upon the Aesthetical Education of Man' (1795), felt that the machine was captivating every individual's freedom and destructing the contemporary culture.
The relationship between technology and culture were of a constant interest to critics and writers through the 1900s. During the Industrial Revolution, contemporary writers also addressed similar issues of the role of the machine in today's society.
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