British History: The Industrial Revolution

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The Industrial Revolution is a highly debated and researched topic of British history, specifically in its origins and Britain’s inordinate success that coincided with it. Some historians argue that Britain first started modernizing in the 1820s and 1830s after the constitutional reforms, development of railways, and institution of substantial industry. However, others look all the way back to Britain’s victory in the French Revolution for a clear beginning to Britain’s, and consequently the world’s, remarkable transformation into an industrial based trade market. Before the Industrial Revolution, the majority of people that resided in Britain revolved their lives around agriculture. They lived in small rural communities where most goods …show more content…
He argues that the prosperous state of the British economy was due to the rich having more children than the poor, therefore passing down their values, genes, and most importantly, their inheritance. However, his ideas are criticized greatly due to their bold assumptions and lack of supporting evidence. A more popular idea comes from the mind of Jan de Vries, who tries to solve the mystery of the correlation between constant wages and the expanding market for manufactured goods. The confusion lies in the fact that wages were not rising, however the demand for consumer goods was. Luxury goods such as Chinese tea, Caribbean sugar, porcelain, white bread, and woolen clothing were being consumed by the poor. He gives credit of the high standard of living to a newfound incentive to work. Men began to work longer hours and even starting working over the holidays to support his families newfound want for consumer goods. Women and children were also integrated into the work force to acquire extra income to keep up with the flow of a materialistic society. In turn, the abundance of labor created an abundance of manufactured goods. This positive relationship of supply and demand was a key factor in the Industrial Revolution. Another historian, Joel Mokyr, takes us back with his enlightenment thinking and emphasizes rationalism and human’s ability to completely master every subject. Humans were able …show more content…
All across Europe population was doubling, even tripling in some countries. These numbers don’t even take into account the mass of people emigrating to the colonies that was also occurring during this time. The reason for this massive growth in population has much to do with increased fertility and even a little to do with reduced mortality. The decline in death rate can be attributed to the end of the plague, the invention of the small pox vaccine, and an improvement of knowledge on health. The increase in birth rate can be explained by people settling down at an earlier age in order to start earning the wages necessary to survive. Some historians believe that families could afford to have more children in this prosperous economic state, while others argue that they were forced to have more children in order to bring in extra income to keep up with the industrial, materialistic times. The latter reason ties into another social aspect known as “self-exploitation in exchange for a better material life” (Wasson pg. 105). As mentioned before, Jan de Vries had the idea that people sacrificed their free time in order to buy back their happiness through goods. Visitors during the 18th century even took notice in the difference of standard of living between Britain and other European and Asian countries, giving evidence to support this

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