The Industrial Revolution : The Origin Of The Industrial Revolution

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The first industrial revolution (IR) which occurred in 18th century Britain was a turning point which sculpted the modern economy and also laid the foundation of modern day production. The primary reasoning for the revolution occurring is the movement of mode of production. For example, the migration of production with the use of human labour to more mechanised production in factories. The origin of the IR and the reasoning why it took place in 18th century Britain is argued upon by many historians and thinkers. The two key economic historians I will be focusing on are David S. Landes and Kenneth Pomeranz. Their narratives of the origins of the IR differ in terms of why, how, when and where it happened. Landes argues that Britain was superior in comparison to other parts of the world and that it was the change in the mode of production and various innovations that caused the IR to occur. Whereas Pomeranz argues that Britain was struck by luck due to many key events taking place which caused Britain to consequently benefit from the industrial revolution. In this essay I will explain the narratives of both individuals and explain my conclusion as to why I believe Landes presented a better narrative in explaining the origin of the industrial revolution and the rise of the west. According to Arnold Toynbee, “The essence of the industrial revolution is the substitution of competition for the medieval regulations which has previously controlled the production and distribution of wealth”. (Toynbee, 1884, 58). This meant that the IR was mainly based on the substitution of previous methods of production with new and improved methods. David S. Landes supported these factors with his arguments. He stated that “In the 18th century, a series of inventions transformed the British cotton manufacture and gave birth to a new mode of production- the factory system” (VLE, week 4). These innovations that changed Britain fell under three principles; the substitution of machines for human labour, the substitution of inanimate for animate sources of power and the substitution of minerals for vegetable or animal substances. These substitutions ultimately are what made the industrial revolution according to Landes. Landes argued that
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