Origins of Industrialization


Industrialization is the process by which a country, or society is transformed from being agriculturally reliant to manufacturing of goods and services. In most cases, human labor is replaced by mechanized mass production, while assembly lines replace artisans. Industrialization is also depicted by technological innovation, which is used in solving problems. This contradicts the reliance of conditions that are beyond human control, including weather or witchcraft. In essence, industrialization has created a more efficient economic growth and division of labor.

The origin of industrialization has been mostly related to the European Industrial Revolution during the 18th and 19th century. The beginning of the Second World War also reinforced industrialization, which consequently led to the development and growth of urban centers and suburbs. It can, therefore, be said that industrialization was reinforced by capitalism and its significance to the society has not been fully determined. One key thing, however, is that industrialization has led to high average income and lower birth rate in many of the world societies. 


Further, industrialization has been part of the broader process of modernization where economic development and social change have been associated with technological innovation. This is about the development of metallurgy and energy production. It extensively organizes the economy of production and manufacturing purposes. Moreover, industrialization has also led to the introduction of the philosophical change whereby; individuals develop different attitudes towards their nature, as well as the sociological process of rationalization. A number of literatures affirm that various factors are involved in enterprise development and modernization. Key among these is favorable legal and political environment, resource availability, availability of skilled and low cost labor. As the income for industrial workers rise, there is a tendency for the market for consumer products and service to expand, consequently stimulating economic growth, and industrial investment. This paper is focused on tracing the origin and history the industrialization.

Origin of Industrialization

Prior to industrialization, most economies were relying on subsistence or agriculture to meet their different human needs. A good example is medieval Europe, where more than 80% of all the workers were working in agricultural fields. On the other hand, some other economies in pre-industrial period, such as classical Athens depended on commerce and trade for their livelihoods. Greeks were hugely supported by slavery, which complimented their subsistence farming. Innovation as a form of industrialization in manufacturing processes  first  began  with  the industrial revolution  in the Midlands  and  North-West regions during the 18th century. From there, it then spread to North- America and Europe during the 19th century.

Industrial revolution, which occurred in the 18th and 19th century, was typically characterized by rural, agrarian societies in America and Europe being transformed into urban and industrial centers. Before the emergence of the industrial revolution, which was initiated in Britain during the 1700s, manufacturing or production was mostly done by use of basic machinery and hand tools in people’s homes. Industrialization resulted into the development of powered and special machinery, mass production and factories. The textile and iron industries, alongside the development of steam engines were quite significant in industrial revolution. Further, the industrial revolution also resulted in an improvement of the transportation system, banking and communication systems. While  the consequence of  industrialization was an increased living standard  and   volume of  manufactured goods, it  also led to  grim  living conditions  and  employment  particularly for the working class and the poor. 

 In the 18th and 19th century, the UK went through an enormous rise in agricultural production that was referred to as the British Agricultural Revolution. This revolution led to a huge population growth whereby most of the employees working in the agriculture sector, were permitted to work in other sectors. Therefore, this was one of the aspects that contributed to the industrial revolution in the region.

Prior to the industrial revolution, the majority of the people resided in rural communities where their daily activities concentrated around farming. For the average person, life was cumbersome. Alongside the income being meager, diseases and malnourishment were common phenomena in that era. Most of the people’s food, furniture, tools and clothing were produced by themselves.  

Many factors contributed to Britain being the home or origin of the industrial revolution. Among these is the presence of natural resources including iron ore and coal. These two resources were quite critical in industrialization processes. This is because the two are involved in making most of the machinery used in industries. In addition, there was political stability in this country, which stimulated this development. Added to this is the fact that Britain was a leading colonial power in the world at that time. This implied that raw materials could be sourced from the various colonies. In addition, these colonies acted as marketplaces for the finished industrial goods. When the demand for British products increased, there was need for cost effective means of production, which consequently led to the development of the factory system and mechanization.

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The iron industry also had a major role in the industrial development. In the 18th century, an Englishman named Abraham Darby, initiated a cheaper and easier way of generating cast iron by utilizing coke fueled furnace. Moreover, in 1850, a British engineer by the name Henry Bessemer, introduced a fast and less costly procedure for manufacturing steel in large scale. The iron and steel were vital materials that were being used in producing machines, appliances, infrastructure, ships, and many other tools.

Another essential feature to industrialization was the progress of the steam engine. In the year 1752, Newcomen Thomas, initiated the first steam engine that was mainly being used for pumping water out of mines. In the year 1770, a Scottish inventor by the name James Watt made a progress on the work of Thomas, including the steam engine that was being utilized by ships, power machinery, and other locomotives at the time of industrial revolution. Before the introduction of the steam engine, there were boats as well as the horse drawn wagons that ferried raw materials and goods. The first commercial steam boat that emerged successfully, was introduced by Fulton Robert an American. By the mid- 19th century, freight was being carried by steamships across the Atlantic. The emergence of steam-powered ships, were followed by a locomotive, which began to be used. The first railway steam locomotive was constructed in 1800s by a British engineer Trevithick, Richard. In 1830, Englands Manchester and Liverpool railways were the first to offer the timetabled and regular passenger service. By 1850, Britain had more than 6,000 miles of railway track. By 1820, a Scottish engineer by the name, McAdam John, came up with a new process for constructing roads. His method, which came to be referred as macadam, led to development of smoother, less muddy and durable roads.

 In order to inhibit the movement of industrialization from Britain to other areas, British authorities tried to establish laws that prohibited the export of skilled workers and technology from their country to other parts of the world. Nonetheless, they did not succeed in this endeavor.  Industrialization came to spread to other countries such as German, France, Belgium and United States. By the 19th century, industrialization had spread in most parts of Europe and America. By the 20th century, America was already the leading nation in terms of industrialization in the world. 

The industrial revolution extended from Britain to the European continent. Industrialization involved the significance of technology that was originating from Britain. This technology was acquired from the British authorities and engineers. British engineers could also move to Europe in search of greener pasture. By 1808, most parts of Europe had replicated Britain in terms of industrialization. Governments such as those of Belgian, Russia, and German supported industrialization in their various countries by sponsoring and funding new industries. Many governments in third world nations also pursued the same state led industrial programs, particularly during the cold war. These countries included the sub Saharan Africa and the socialist ones after they achieved independence. The main aim of these endeavors by the third world nations was to be self- reliant by producing their goods locally, provision of health care and education and mechanization of agriculture. However, these proposals by the third world nations were not that thriving due to poor political systems or lack of know-how on how to run such systems.


In conclusion, there is no uncertainty that the industrial revolution was a significant turning point in the history of humanity. Nearly all characteristics of everyday life of human beings were in one way or the other impacted by the industrial revolution. The notable areas of impact were on the average income and population, which exhibited unprecedented growth in numbers. This may be attributed to enhanced productivity of goods and services because of industrialization. Moreover, industrial revolution resulted into a rise in people’s living standards. This improvement was more significant during the 19th and 20th century. Concerning the origin of industrialization, it is clear that Britain is the birthplace of industrialization. Moreover, its growth and development was facilitated by sufficient resources, which were accumulated from Britain’s many colonies. These colonies also offered ready markets for the finished goods. From Britain, it then spread to other parts of Europe through either industrial workers who were looking for better opportunities, British engineers or literary buying it from the British authorities. Moreover, the third world countries were quick to embrace industrialization after gaining independence in order to become self-reliant. 

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