Pre-requisite to industrial revolution

What: transition to new manufacturing processes.

Transition process included: hand production methods to machine, expansion in coal/cotton/iron production, steam power, introduction of machine tools.

Where: began in England, gradually shifted to entire Europe, US and Japan.

Dominant industry: Textile industry


1. Rise of capitalist class: growth of free trade, rising of business profits and dilution of feudalism gave push to new social class of capitalist.

2. Materialistic lifestyle: due to age of reasoning and contributions of Voltaire, Rousseau, Locke desire for materialistic lifestyle began to gain popularity. People began practicing concept of happy life, demanding human rights and collection of material wealth. Even taking money loan for materialist lifestyle was not unethical anymore.

3. Regular supply of raw material: Europe could get raw material such as cotton, sugarcane, indigo etc. both from the orient (east of Europe or east of Occident) and the new world.

4. Market expansion: discovery of new areas followed by export of finished goods.

5. Labour supply: rise of population in Europe gave consistent supply of labour at subsistence wages.

6. Transport facility: Dutch innovation of long journey ship vessel Fluyt (FLUTE). This reduced the cost of shipping to one-third.

7. Agriculture sector: Even advancement in the agriculture sector released labour from rural sector (labour supply increased). It also provided backward linkages to the industrial sector (e.g. Cotton)

8. Commercial revolution: began with the Crusade where Christian Europe trying to capture Holy land (Jerusalem) for religious, political and economic reason and continued till the industrial revolution. Other factors included, discovery of America, opening of new trade, formation of strong central governments and trading companies.

9. Economic thoughts of Mercantilism (15-18th century) and Lassiez Faire capitalism.

Mercantilism: theory that supports every little bit of a country’s soil be utilized for agriculture, mining or manufacturing, all raw materials found in a country be used in domestic manufacture no export, support large working population, export of finished goods, Discouraging foreign imports of finished goods, imports only of essential raw material.

Lassiez Faire: people should be free from any form of economic intervention. Market should function on competitive lines. Economic system should allow markets to self-regulate. Near complete separation of government from the economic sector.

10. Scientific innovations for mass production:

  • ‘Spinning Jenny’ was an engine for spinning wool or cotton invented in 1764 by James Hargreaves.
  • In 1712, Thomas Newcomen invented the first steam engine (first practical fuel-burning engine), known as the atmospheric engine.
  • Eli Whitney invented the cotton engine, or ‘gin’ for short, in 1794 that could separate cotton seed and fibre easily.
  • Scottish engineer James Watt invented the first practical steam engine in 1763.
  • In 1837, Telegraph began operating in London.
  • First electric generator was invented by Michael Faraday in 1831: the Faraday Disk.
  • Joseph Aspdin in 1824 devised and patented a chemical process for making Portland Cement.
  • John McAdam’s ‘macadamized’ roads: used crushed stone in shallow, convex layers, a binding layer of stone dust, and a cement or bituminous binder.
  • Henry Bessemer in 1856 patented world’s first inexpensive process for the mass production of steel from molten pig iron.
  • Richard Arkwright in 1769 devised a machine (water frame) to spin cotton fibers into yarn or thread quickly and easily.

Factory system: It is a system where a capitalist would invest huge sum of money, employ many workers at a single place or building with machines for mass production of goods.

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