Industrial Revolution refers to a period between the mid-17th and mid-18th century when there was a great economic, technological, social and cultural transformation that began in England and later spread to other parts of the world. These changes substantially affected human life to an extent that was equated to the change from hunters and gathering. This period marked the change of the world’s economy from the dependence on agrarian manual labor technique, into factory and manufacturing using heavy machines that could run for longer hours without tiring (Allen, 2009: Landes, 2003). This revolution made England the first industrial nation, whose aim was to supply at least two-thirds of the world with spin, dyed and woven cotton.
The Elements that Made England Lead Industrial Revolution
England possessed several physical, political and moral advantages that provided motivating environment for technological inventions of the machines. England enjoyed peace and liberty to a level that no other country has experienced for centuries.This freedom and peaceful coexistence, gave natural philosophers currently referred to as scientists ample opportunity to invent technological devices, like the cotton spinning machines (Landes, 2003). England was also among the first nations to have just laws that made personal liberty and property to be secure, promoted commercial enterprises that led to capital accumulation by the lords and peasants, with guaranteed safety. The laws also ensured the protection of the workman. Equally, England had an effectively functioning central bank and well-developed credit market that controlled their financial market and offered credits to the farmers to improve their farming. The government also permitted the domestic economy to operate with limited restrictions and encouraged both technological transformation, as well as a free market. In addition, England enjoyed labor surplus as a result of the adoption of the enclosure model of farming, a move that made many people migrate to the towns to seek employment in the industries. These favorable factors led England to the Industrial Revolution, before it spread to the rest of the world, including the United States.
The Change of Agricultural Model in Europe
The Agricultural Revolution made farmers to be more productive. The landowners also fenced off their land and became more protective of their property. This left many landless and had to migrate to societies and cities to provide the specialized labor. The agriculture therefore changed from the open model to the secure model of farming that was controlled by the lords (Allen, 2009). Many peasants also lost their pieces of land after enactment of several legislations that promoted large scale production. This led to abundance of food supplies. The rapid population growth in Europe also resulted in an increase in demand for goods. This prompted an increase in production to match the demand, and as a result, more craftsmen were involved in the production and manufacturing lines and the formation of the putting-out system.
There was also an adoption of manure and fertilizers based model of agricultural to match the demand and to diversification into new crops other than cotton, and farming technologies using horse pulled ploughs and the use of enclosure movement (Allen, 2009). Initially, farming was done using the open field system where the local parish dictated what was to be planted. This became a hindrance to increase the agricultural productivity, hence the change to enclosure model that joined the entire villages.
New machines that could provide cheaper and more efficient labor had to be introduced to match needs of the growing population. For example, James Hargreaves invented a cotton-spinning jenny, and Richard Arkwright around 1765 a spinning device that transformed the textile industry. Invention of the steam power that could be used to pump water, as well as spin and weave cotton brought a break through the industry (Landes, 2003). There was also a creation of new and faster transport systems and networks, such as the canals and railways.
Reaction of Peasant Farmer
After enactment of several laws proposing the enclosure system, many peasants lost their agricultural land to the lords, who owned the large enclosed tracks of land, but were able to purchase food at lower prices, as compared to the period they practiced the subsistence farming (Allen, 2009). Peasant’s reaction should be to accept the laws governing agriculture and move to cities to seek work in the factories to continue earning a living. On the other hand, the peasants, whose land were spared to adopt new farming skills, new vegetables and grains, as well as adopting new technologies that improve production.
The development of efficient transportation and communication lines connected Europe and America to the rest of the world, thus led to the increase of exports of both the manufactured goods and knowledge of factory production. Toll roads, railroads and canals, also connected the rural areas to urban centers. This revolutionized the rural life of the peasants, since their producing could access direct markets (Allen, 2009).
How the Population Experienced Change in Mobility and Social Freedom
Social life was transformed as a result of the industrial revolution. People were free to work in any industry. The revolution led to the formation of worker’s unions and human rights groups that promoted better wages and working conditions in Europe. The populations were finally relieved from the inhumane labor of working twelve hours, owing to the fact that machines could do much work. There was also enactment of anti-child labor law that freed children from hard labor.
The industrial and agricultural revolution makes the peasant farmer recognize the dire need for mass production of agricultural goods and raw materials way above their capability. This is because the factories consume much more raw materials within a shorter time than the agrarian manual method, and needs adoption of the new large scale farming skills to match the pace of mechanical manufacturing.
The major impacts of industrial revolution include; the change from the human based source of labor and skill to the machine centered labor which is rapid, consistent, specific and tireless (Allen, 2009); the transformation from the nonrenewable to renewable sources of energy such as steam power that supplied unlimited energy, and the use of new and abundant raw materials. This led into the increased production of both the agricultural and manufactured products that matched the ever increasing population.