Industrialization: Causes

The Causes of Industrialization

Why some countries industrialized and others did not

Industrialization has been going on for a while now, but how did it really start?  The Industrial Revolution has much controversy around it, and many would have people believe that “Western” nations industrialized because they are “superior to other countries”.  However, this was not the case.

Britain was the first country to industrialize, and it makes sense to start there. Britain had many characteristics that made it perfect for industrialization.  First, Britain was wealthy.  This wealth allowed Britain to invest in the factories and technology needed to industrialize.  Second, the enclosure movement started up in the countryside.  (Halsall) Before this movement, much of the farm land in Britain was communally farmed, and the land belonged to the community.  However, the enclosure movement caused people to stake claims to the communal land, and fence it off. The writer Daniel Defoe said this “The sides of hills, which were very steep, were spread with houses; for the land being divided into small enclosures, that is to say, from two acres to six or seven acres each, seldom more” (Sparticus Educational).  This left numerous farmers out of work, and forced them to move to cities to feed their families.  Finally, Britain had the resources to succeed.  Land was readily available in Britain for factories, coal was seemingly inexhaustible, and overseas trade brought in other necessary resources to Britain. (Bulliet, Pamela, Daniel, Steven, and Lyman)With these characteristics, it was only a matter of time before Britain industrialized.

Britain’s textile industry industrialized first, and soon clothing was more readily available to all. Before industrialization, “These cloth-makers reside almost entirely in the villages, and bring their cloth on market-days for sale” according to George Walker (Sparticus Educational).  After Industrialization textiles were produced majorly in factories and cities, where they could be mass produced efficiently.

France, Germany, and the United States all industrialized similarly, building off of the discoveries and advancements of the British and improving on them.  For example, the steam engine was vastly improved in the United States, although it was created in Britain.

Countries that did not industrialize prominently include Egypt, India, and Russia.

Egypt came very close to industrializing under the leadership of Muhammad Ali.  Ali encouraged the development fo factories, attempted to stimulate the economy of Egypt, and tried to break with the Ottoman Empire.  The last point was the snag that hurled Egypt off of the path to industrialization.  Egypt was loosing its battle for independence with the Ottoman Empire, when Britain and France intervened. In exchange for their interference, egypt opened up trade.  Britain flooded the Egyptian markets with cheap manufactured products, and Egypt gained a massive debt to Britain and France. (Bulliet, Pamela, Daniel, Steven, and Lyman)  Instead of investing in its own economy, Egypt began buying British textiles and goods because they were much cheaper than

India did not even try to industrialize, in the beginning, because the Mughal rulers did not see the value in Industrialization.  This was because India had the best, most beautiful, and most coveted textiles in the world.  There was simply no need to industrialize in India.  In addition, the British invasion and colonization of India did not help industrialization efforts, and although a few scattered factories surfaced, India could not industrialize.  China had very similar reasons for not industrializing as India. Simply put, China thought it was the best and could not possibly get better.  (“India”)

Russia was different entirely.  The country is controlled by the Tsars, who rule absolutely in their domains, the last refuge of absolute monarchs.  The tsars saw what happened in Europe to the absolute rulers, especially in France.  Not wanting a revolution or a compromise, the czars decided to prevent the creation of a middle class. Therefore, serf rule was harshly enforced and industrialization was actively stopped by the government.  (Bulliet, Pamela, Daniel, Steven, and Lyman)

Latin America did not industrialize for a few different reasons.  Most prominently, Latin America was under stricter control economically than british colonies.  These colonies were held under the policy of mercantilism, and were only allowed to export raw materials, and only to their “mother” countries.  This made Industrialization nearly impossible in Latin America.  In addition, Latin American independence movements started when the global economy was declining.  This made it harder for the economy to stabilize.   Finally, the governments of Latin America still had many social and political problems after independence.  This made stability rare, and military leaders common.  All of these elements combined to make Latin America slow to industrialize.

Land, labor, and capital allowed Industrialization in some countries (see the map!).  On the other hand, countries that did not industrialize varied greatly; indeed government support varied from trying to start an industrial revolution to trying to stop one.


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