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What Caused the Industrial Revolution?

May 16, 2024

The Industrial Revolution was a turning point in modern history as it is the process of fundamental transformations from agrarian, handcrafted economies to industrial societies. Britain initiated the Industrial Revolution in the 18th century, which was referred to as the era of industrial rise and machine manufacturing. It brought about global paradigm shifts in the social traditions and the economy. Popularized by historian Arnold Toynbee, according to which the world is witnessing a sustained process of economic transition that continues to influence the destiny of different nations.

What Was the Industrial Revolution?

The Industrial Revolution, which began in Great Britain in the late-18th to early-19th centuries, represents a huge perturbation in the history of civilization. Mainly driven by coal and iron, this age was the era of vibrant mechanization and innovation that took the traditional agricultural economies to the next level of industrial might. 


In the end, the American Industrial Revolution, which the Great Gilded Age influenced World War II, followed the same pattern by shifting from the mechanization of agriculture, manufacturing, and transportation.

Causes of the Industrial Revolution

The Industrial Revolution is undeniably a turning point in human history as it is at this moment that economies, societies, and landscapes are shaped on a global scale. The analysis of the causes that led to the world transformation is based on the interdisciplinary approach, which includes several interconnected factors.


Technological Innovations

  • The central component of the Industrial Revolution was the original inventions and discoveries that accelerated the transition of the labor work performed with hands to mechanized production. 
  • In the United Kingdom, which became a major player in the Industrial Revolution, James Hargreaves, Richard Arkwright, Samuel Crompton, and James Watt brought into existence some of the most significant innovations.
  • The introduction of machines such as spinning jenny, water frame, spinning mule, and steam engine revolutionized the textile manufacturing era, which served as a basis for mass production in factories. 
  • At the same time, the introduction of innovative steelmaking technology, assembly lines, electrical grids, and equipment into different industrial areas also helped industrialization.

Agricultural Revolution and Enclosure Movement

  • The transformation of England from a peasant-based agricultural economy to a highly industrialized one was assisted by the Agricultural Revolution and the Enclosure Movement. 
  • Implementing better crop rotation techniques and selective breeding boosted agricultural productivity, which multiplied the output of food and labor. 
  • The Enclosure Movement, whose process led to the consolidation of small places into big, fenced-off estates, resulted in the improvement of agricultural efficiency; on the other hand, it drove many small farmers into the urban centers in search of employment opportunities. This internal migration of the countryside to cities brought the workers for industrial work.

Abundance of Natural Resources

  • The United Kingdom’s industrial dominance is based on its extensive reserve of natural resources, predominately coal and iron ore. 
  • Coal, a key fuel for steaming engines and furnaces, and iron ore, a significant component of machinery and infrastructure construction, were abundant, thus aiding the expansion of the industry. 
  • Additionally, England’s dense river network provided a means for internal transportation & thus distributed goods and resources with ease.

Stable Government and Economy

  • Great Wealth Britain witnessed phenomenal growth during the Industrial Revolution in a calm socio-political and economic climate. 
  • Despite facing periodic wars, such as the Glorious Revolution in 1688, England experienced internal peace most of its time, creating a suitable environment for economic growth and innovation.
  •  A strong legal system, with private property rights and intellectual property rights protection, became a stimulus of entrepreneurship and a source of investments. 
  • Furthermore, a powerful banking system, which was already well-developed in England, became the source of capital for all industrial ventures. Thus, the economic environment reached its highest potential.

Impact of the Industrial Revolution

The Industrial Revolution brought about substantial transformations in the economic, social, and political realms that have deeply changed human civilization forever.

On Economy

  • The change from the initial stage of manufacturing, which was based on skillful craftsmanship, to the later step of mechanized factory-produced manufacturing fundamentally transformed the regional economies. 
  • The use of machinery not only dramatically increased productivity but also yielded goods of higher quality at cheaper costs, which in turn brought about large-scale industrial capitalism and trade.
  •  Productivity skyrocketed by striking down the workers two times, demonstrating the peak of the British textile industry. 
  • The Industrial Revolution spawned industrial cities, which promoted urbanization and converted the economic system.

On Society

  • The advent of the Industrial Revolution resulted in new social conflicts with the clear separation between the working class and capitalists. 
  • The change in the migration pattern from rural areas to urban areas affected not only the societal structures but also the breakdown of the traditional family structures and the birth of nuclear families. 
  • Maternalism and individualism emerged as two of the key movements in the growing industrial cities. On the one hand, the emergence of slums was proof that the owners of factories were not able to provide adequate housing and amenities, thus making the exploitation of the working class worse than ever. 
  • Women and children took most of the labor exploitation, resulting in intellectual discourse and driving the movements toward socialism and communism.

On Polity

  • Political awareness flourished at the same time as that of industrialization, confirming the advent of the new democratic political institutions. 
  • The legislative reforms that culminated in the British Reform Act of 1832 finally made political participation possible for the middle and working classes, thereby putting an end to the aristocracy’s monopoly on governance. 
  • The emergence of democracy signaled a major earthquake in political power structures, which brought about the implementation of electoral democracy and societal representation.

The Advantages and Disadvantages of Industrialization

The Industrial Revolution brought with it a wide range of both positive and negative changes, which greatly affected society and human existence.


Advantages of Industrialization

Employment Opportunities: The increase in factories and large industries resulted in employment in the masses; this caused the migration of people from rural to urban centers. The factory jobs paid much more than the traditional agricultural work, raising the standard of living for many and their families.

Urbanization and City Planning: The increasing concentration of industries and the accompanying mass migration of workers from the rural areas to city centers who were seeking jobs, while straining the housing services initially, later saw the improvement of city planning. The building of infrastructures and the emergence of sanitation improved the living conditions in cities, which were seen as the modern urban living standards.


Innovation and Education: Industrialization gave rise to a culture of innovation, which, in turn, created exceptional inventions that remade numerous fields. The Industrial Revolution not only engendered further advancements like the sewing machine, X-ray, lightbulb, calculator, and anesthesia but also promoted the importance of education and gave momentum for technological progress.

Technological Advancements: The Industrial Revolution is the symbol of disruptive technological advancements, most notably the creation of the combustion engine, the incandescent light bulb, and the modern assembly line. These inventions overturned traditional manufacturing techniques, inverted work routines, and therefore increased efficiency industry-wide.


Disadvantages of Industrialization

Environmental Degradation: The booming of industries and urban centers due to the Industrial Revolution led to and aggravated air pollution problems. Factories discharged pollutants into the atmosphere and water bodies, whereas inadequate waste management led to unhygienic living conditions and drinking water quality.

Poor Working Conditions: Pursuing profit maximization was at the cost of workers’ welfare. Long working hours, low wages, and only a short break became common in factories, resulting in protests and strikes from the labourers. Child labor likewise escalated, creating a crisis between labor rights and standards of living.


Food Shortages: The movement of vast numbers of rural people to urban areas put great pressure on agricultural production, and this resulted in food shortages in some regions. The shift from farming to factory work changed the traditional rural food production systems, highlighting the social-economic implications of industrialization.


The Industrial Revolution continues to be a lasting reminder of how humanity can push boundaries and keep evolving. At Turito, we are dedicated to recognizing this heritage by offering incomparable educational resources that equip learners to tackle the challenges of contemporary life. Learn more from the Turito website through various tools like tutorials and individual sessions to gain confidence and improve your grades.



What were some important inventions of the Industrial Revolution?

The main inventions were the steam engine, the spinning jenny, and the assembly line, which introduced modern industries like cotton processing and manufacturing.

How did the Industrial Revolution affect the environment and health?

Intense industrialization increased pollution and unsanitary habitats, bringing along deterioration of the environment and health problems.

What were the long-term impacts of the Industrial Revolution?

The Industrial Revolution changed societies through technological innovations and led to globalization while, at the same time, bringing about social injustices and workers’ movements.

Caused the Industrial Revolution


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