From the eighteenth to the nineteenth century, many significant advancements were made in the fields of manufacturing, agriculture, transportation, and mining. The era originated in the United Kingdom, and then expanded through Europe and North America. The entire world was soon affected by the many innovations and discoveries. History has been vastly impacted by this age.

View England's Industrial Revolution in a larger map


A movement from traditional, manual labor towards more mechanically-based work began in the late 1700s. First, the textile industry became mechanized, iron-making methods were established, and the use of refined coal experienced a dramatic rise. The growth of trade between regions was encouraged by renovated roads, railroads, and canals. Steam power, the more widespread use of water wheels, and more advanced machinery gave supported the manufacturing of large quantities of items. Due to the making of some metal machine tools early on in the 19th century, it was less difficult to produce additional, somewhat similar machines for other industries. As these effects became globe-encompassing, our world as we know it began to take shape. But what exactly lead to this influential age?

Some historians point to the end of feudalism in Britain as the main event which caused the Industrial Revolution. The reason for the occurrence of this era, however, is largely debatable. Vicious disease epidemics were less common as border controls improved. An increasing amount of infants moved on to adulthood; that led to more employees for the workforce. Along with these changes, the Encloser movement, as well as the British Agricultural Revolution affected society. They caused many former agricultural workers to take jobs in the textile industry and to eventually migrate into larger urban areas near newly developed factories because of the heightened efficiency of food production. Colonialism, the accompanying establishment of international trade, the creation of financial markets, the Scientific Revolution, and the overwhelming use of capital economic systems are also cited as factors leading to the Industrial Revolution.

The ideas of the Industrial Revolution needed to be spread somehow, though. There were several methods to transmitting information about innovations created in this time. Employees trained to work with these inventions were not permitted to move from the country or even another employer. People would sometimes go on tours and collect information to bring back to someone. Throughout the century before and the entirety of the Industrial Revolution, Europe and America engaged in what they referred to as study touring. Countries like France and Sweden trained citizens as a matter of policy. In different regions, such as Britain and America, self-supporting manufacturers did this when they wished to further their businesses. The keeping of travel diaries was also a common practice during this time frame. Technicians' and industrialists' records are oftentimes used today as reliable sources for learning about the work these specialists did during the period.

During the 19th century, the results spread across Western Europe and North America. Soon the majority of the world was affected. The societal impact of this time period was immeasurable. The Industrial Revolution has shaped our nations today, as industrial areas depended upon large workforces and monetary support. It formed a specialized system of economics which caused the worker to become significantly more dependent on the employer than he had in previous times. However, there was also a need to protect the workforce during the revolution as conditions in factories were periodically harsh. Undeveloped nations are still striving to achieve the improvements in industry, the expansion of population, and the advancements in the standards of living.

The Industrial Revolution wasn't without its negative consequences, however. Since this time, more machines which cause pollution have been created, more nonrenewable fuel supplies have been depleted, and more locations have been deforested to make room for more people. Theories about climate change have emerged which are linked to these things. For instance, the popular global warming theory states that humans are causing a dangerous shift in the climate of the earth. This is believed to be due to fossil fuel burning releasing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Though this theory isn't completely accepted by everyone, we should undeniably be cautious about how we are modifying our habitat with our actions. The Industrial Revolution may have led to great strides in many areas, but it could also lead to our downfall as a civilization if we allow it to.


How did the Industrial Revolution affect the economy prior to the twentieth century?

The Industrial Revolution reinvented the way work was done. Many innovations of the period led to the widespread use of mainly mechanical means to producing items. Prior to this, most work was done manually and was labor-intensive. The productivity of many manufacturing plants increased remarkably as a result of the new machines. All these ideas and surplus merchandise were also able to travel from one region to another more efficiently than ever due to improved transportation systems. Food production advancements caused a rise in population, too. Citizens who were formerly employed in agricultural fields began working in textile mills in larger urban areas. As excess products were created, people sought new areas to trade goods and unexplored areas, like the New World, were discovered.

In what was has our economic system been influenced by this era?

Our economic system was largely shaped by the Industrial Revolution. Without the many inventions and discoveries of the period, our society would be vastly different. Prior to the urbanization which occurred during the era, most people lived in small towns and villages. They moved to cities in order to find jobs when theirs had been taken by machines. At first wages were very low, but they improved slightly, and the middle class grew. However, we did begin to rely more heavily on fossil fuels for our energy consumption needs. As we know, this is not a sustainable system, so we are forced to explore other alternate methods of harnessing energy.

How could our future economic state be affected by the Industrial Revolution?

In the future, our economy may continue to be affected by the Industrial Revolution. Any speculation about this is purely a hypothesis, as we only have a very vague idea of what the future will be like. I believe that perhaps our world will become overcrowded because of urbanization. The advancements society made in the revolution could be held largely responsible for this. The textile mills needed workers, and citizens needed jobs, so masses of people migrated from rural areas to new cities. Also, maybe in the search for alternate fuel sources we will stumble upon something to make our lives better. Our finding could even possibly lay the foundation for future inventions and discoveries.


The Industrial Revolution was a time of major technological advances. The time period shaped our modern-day culture and our lives. The economy has experienced dramatic changes because of this age, and it will continue to affect the status of our economy for years to come.


Lauren R., Rebekah W., Derek O.