The Background to the British Industrial Revolution
To a considerable extent, the purpose of this study is to emphasize a particular way of evaluating both the causes and effects of the industrial revolution in much of Western Europe. This chapter takes a brief look into the nature of the economic system that produced the industrial revolution — on as macroeconomic a level of detail as possible — in order to isolate some of the principal influences on later development. The industrial revolution began in Britain in the 18th century and so the description of the British case occupies the largest space in this study. In fact, we will make simple chronological breaks in the 210 years of British economic history we consider, with Chapter 1 covering the period in which the event began (1700–1780), Chapter 2 covering the first revolution itself (1780–1850/60) and Chapter 3 covering the period of consolidation in the United Kingdom (1870–1910), when the rate of growth of the industrial sector also decelerated somewhat.
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