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The Industrial Revolution refers to the greatly increased output of machine-made goods that began in England during the 18th century. Before the Industrial Revolution, people wove textiles by hand. Beginning in the middle 1700s, machines did this and other jobs as well. The Industrial Revolution started in England and soon spread to Continental Europe and North America. It brought economic changes which took place in the eighteenth and the nineteenth centuries and completely transformed the European society. The Industrial Revolution brought about two main changes, viz. it replaced the domestic system by factory system and small scale production by mass production.

The Scientific & Technological Innovations, which made the Revolution Possible

Industrial revolution led to the rise of industrial capitalism and finance capitalism. Before the 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 funds were needed and a class of capitalist made its appearance.

Steam Power: The invention of the use of steam was one of the most revolutionary discoveries which greatly facilitated the adoption of the machine methods of production. Prior to the discovery of the system power also machines were in use, but the progress was rather slow due to lack of good motive power. These machines were worked on water or wind-power

Iron and Steel: The introduction of steam-driven machinery also made it desirable that the wood machinery should be replaced by machinery made of some durable material, and thus usage of iron was a natural development. But as iron was not available in sufficient quantity an effort was made to increase its production through the use of cocking process. In 1829 Nelson invented a hot blast which made the use of raw coal, instead of coke, possible for the manufacture of iron. This invention greatly helped the growth of iron industry of Clyde.

Development of Coal Industry: The increasing use of steam power and iron and steel necessitated the development of coal industry. In fact the coal and the iron are the two foundations of the modern industrial society and a country lacking in either stands at a disadvantage.

Changes in Means of Communication: Between 1800 and 1820 about 200 miles of rail lines were in operation in Britain. They were mainly used to carry raw material. Efforts were also made to bring improvements in road and inland waterways. As a result of all these changes Britain came to have thousand of good roads which greatly reduced the transportation cost.

Textile Industry: By 1800, several major inventions had modernized the cotton industry. In the process one invention led to another.

Improvements in Engineering Techniques: The mechanical engineers particularly played an important role in the improvement of machinery as well as its efficient use. They made use of iron and steel in place of wood to create complex machinery.



Industrial revolution led to the rise of industrial capitalism and finance capitalism. Before the 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 funds were needed and a class of capitalist made its appearance. However, with the passage of time the industrial operations grew still more complex and enormous funds were needed which could not be provided by the capitalists from their individual resources. Therefore, they began to look towards investment bankers for these funds. This ushered in era of Finance Capital. Though the industrial revolution was majorly an economic phenomenon, it greatly affected the social and political life of the countries it was prevalent in.

Social Impacts: In the special 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, Burmingham and Sheffield in Britain, which soon became the centres of industry, trade and commerce. Secondly, the rise of cities was accompanied by the growth of slums. Before the advent of industrial revolution, the industry was 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.

Political Impact: In the political sphere also the industrial revolution had manifold impact. In the first place it led to colonization of Asia and Africa. Great Britain and other industrial countries of Europe began to look for new colonies which could supply them the 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 nineteenth century. In fact these countries added so much territory 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 colonialism produced adverse effects on the local people and resulted in their uthless exploitation. However, it cannot be denied that it also paved the way for the industrialization of these territories because the European colonizers set up certain industries in these areas.

Industrial Revolution and Capitalism

Industrialization led to the decline of feudalism in Europe. A new system of society called Capitalism arose in its place. It was an economic system in which the means of production and distribution were privately owned and operated for profit. This system gave rise to two new social classes one was that of the factory owners who owned the factories and employed and paid wages to factory workers. They also controlled the sale of goods and their main aim was to make maximum profits. They controlled the sale of goods and their main aim was to make maximum profits. They controlled the 'capital' or the money and, hence, were called capitalists. They were a prosperous group of people and led luxurious lives. The other class comprised of workers who worked in factories. They lived in great hardship and were exploited by the factory owners. Imperialism is the policy of extending political and economic control over a weak country by a powerful one. The phenomena gained strength in the nineteenth century AD, largely due to the Industrial Revolution. A market for manufactured goods and sources for obtaining cheap raw materials for producing more goods were desperately needed. Areas to invest surplus capital were also required. This led the European nations to acquire colonies in the politically and militarily weak countries of Asia and Africa. These countries could easily be conquered by the powerful Europeans. They provided a good opportunity for the investment of surplus capital. Besides, Asia and Africa were well provided with natural resources and had a huge potential to absorb finished goods.

The Industrial Revolution was a mixed blessing. It had both advantages and disadvantages.


  1. Centre of economic life shifted from the villages to cities and towns where the factories were situated.
  2.  Urban (cities) and rural (villages) life became dependant upon one another. Isolated life of self-sufficient villages came to an end.
  3.  Men became free to develop their capabilities in areas other than farming.
  4. It brought countries and people together. There was an international awareness among people because developments in one country influenced the others.
  5. The aristocracy and nobility with their feudal ideas were replaced by the newly rich middle class capitalists (bourgeoisie) who also became politically powerful.
  6. Better transport, communications and mechanized goods made life comfortable for man.



  1. Cities became crowded, smoky, with problems of slums, housing, sanitation, accidents and epidemics.
  2.  Women and child labour was badly exploited.
  3. Workers suffered from long working hours, low wages, and unemployment, unsafe conditions of work, with no rights to vote strike or form trade unions.
  4. Society, became divided into rich and poor, the 'Haves' and the 'Have- Nots'.
  5.  It led to wars of imperialism and colonization.