The Industrial Revolution or First Industrial Revolution is called the historical period in which a set of radical changes in the methods of production of goods was experienced , and which generated new economic and social dynamics among individuals.
The First Industrial Revolution began in England in 1760 and from there it spread to other Western European countries and the United States of America until 1840.
The industrial revolution meant the transition from a rural economy, fundamentally based on agriculture, but also characterized by the predominance of trade and the manual production of goods, to an urban, industrialized and mechanized economy.
Causes of the Industrial Revolution
These changes were caused by the need to search for new production methods in the 18th century, coupled with the scientific advances of the moment, which led to the invention of new technologies to improve production systems.
Another of the causes that prompted the Industrial Revolution has to do with the multiple war conflicts that arose in Europe in the 18th century, such as the Napoleonic Wars, led by Napoleon Bonaparte in France, and which prompted various nations to develop production methods that allowed them to have access to resources that were now scarce, such as food and textiles.
In Great Britain, the exploitation of coal with industrial techniques was a determining factor in promoting the invention of the steam engine, created by James Watt, and its application in industry and transport would completely change the economic and social panorama of an entire epoch.
The steam engine, a fundamental invention to drive the Industrial Revolution.
On the other hand, the discovery of electric power and the internal combustion engine in the 19th century contributed to the expansion of the First Industrial Revolution.
Consequences of the Industrial Revolution
Economic development fueled by the Industrial Revolution brought with it demographic and environmental changes, especially in large cities.
The advances brought by the Industrial Revolution introduced changes in all areas of life at the time. Among the most outstanding characteristics of this period, the following stand out:
- Multiplication of production in relation to production time.
- Evolution in means of transport: appearance of ships and steam railways.
- Expansion of trade thanks to new means of transport.
- Multiplication of wealth, increase in GDP.
- Rise of the industrial bourgeoisie, a class made up of the owners of the means of production.
- Migrations from the countryside to the city: growth of the urban population.
- Appearance of a new social class: the proletariat, made up of workers and workers.
- Birth of the social question.
- Advances in medicine and hygiene, and consequent increase in population.
- Environmental deterioration, landscape degradation and destruction of land.
- Creation of the concept of mass production and mass consumption.
- Development and expansion of capitalism.
Stages of the Industrial Revolution
18th century engraving by British artist William Hogarth called ” Industry and Idleness “, a satire on social differences deepened with industrialisation.
There is agreement in pointing out two stages in the industrial revolution, each one characterized by the introduction of new technologies that had a great impact on the production of goods and, therefore, on the economy:
- The first stage of the Industrial Revolution : it extends from the middle of the 18th century to the first half of the 19th century, it is characterized by the introduction of the steam engine in the manufacturing processes.
- The second stage of the Industrial Revolution : it goes from the end of the 19th century to the beginning of the First World War, in 1914, it is distinguished by the application of innovations such as electric power and the internal combustion engine in the manufacture of goods.
The industrial revolution meant not only the economic and technological takeoff of the main European powers and the United States, it was also the cause of innumerable social injustices, such as unequal exchanges between the bourgeoisie and the working class (exploitation of the proletariat) and the rise of ideologies and revolts. social groups that tried to turn the situation around. From there, the justification of communism, socialism and anarchism, as well as vindication movements that managed to win, slowly but gradually, better conditions for workers.