1. Definitions

"Industrial revolution, a rapid development in industry; spec. (freq. with capital initials) the development which took place in England in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, chiefly owing to the introduction of new or improved machinery and large-scale production methods. [Oxford English Dictionary (OED)]

Industrial revolution the vast social and economic changes that resulted from the development of steam-powered machinery and mass-production methods, beginning in the late eighteenth century in Great Britain and extending through the nineteenth century elsewhere in the world. [Academic Press Dictionary of Science and Technology]

"The Industrial Revolution is not simply an acceleration of economic growth, but an acceleration of growth because of, and through, economic and social transformation." [Hobsawm, 12]

2. Pre-conditions

What were the necessary conditions — educational, social, political, economical, and technological — for a radically new ways of production and distribution to arise and then flourish? Historians ask why the Industrial Revolution happened, why it happened where it did (in England instead of, say, France), and why it happened when it did and not either earlier or later. According to those who've studied this turning-point in world history, the following conditions had to exist before the first phase of the Industrial Revolution could occur:

Related Materials


Gideon, Sigfried. Mechanization Takes Command. New York: Norton,

Hobsbawm, Eric. Industry and Empire: The Birth of the Industrial Revolution. rev. ed. New York: New Press, 1999.

Last modified 27 March 2001