The Great Industrial Revolution in Europe: 1760-1860
The first (or "Great") Industrial Revolution occurred in Europe from roughly 1760 to 1860, and marked the end of the centuries-long feudal era and the rise of modern capitalism. To understand the modern industrial economy, it is necessary to consider the profound structural changes that produced it in the 18th and 19th centuries. New industries replaced old systems or businesses with new technologies, products, markets, and business practices, resulting in dramatic changes in economic growth (a measure of material well-being), politics (new institutions, interests, and ideologies), and society (such as urbanization, changes in social mobility, and immigration). Anchored to the rationalist principles of the Enlightenment, the Industrial Revolution emphasized increased productivity across sectors, from agricultural labor to factory production. The Industrial Revolution encompassed and relied on dramatic changes to organizational management, capital structures, resource procurement, and political institutions, marking a culmination of societal transformation that manifested in an explosion of economic development. The word "revolution" suggests a period of radical change, a shift from an old order to a completely new one: the Industrial Revolution was such a shift. This note offers a historical overview of this hugely consequential period in economic history.