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Process of change from an agrarian, handicraft economy to one dominated by industry and machine manufacture. It began in England in the 18th century. Technological changes included the use of iron and steel, new energy sources, the invention of new machines that increased production (including the steam engine and the spinning jenny), the development of the factory system, and important developments in transportation and communication (including the railroad and the telegraph). The Industrial Revolution was largely confined to Britain from 1760 to 1830 and then spread to Belgium and France. Other nations lagged behind, but, once Germany, the U.S., and Japan achieved industrial power, they outstripped Britain's initial successes. Eastern European countries lagged into the 20th century, and not until the mid-20th century did the Industrial Revolution spread to such countries as China and India. Industrialization effected changes in economic, political, and social organization. These included a wider distribution of wealth and increased international trade; political changes resulting from the shift in economic power; sweeping social changes that included the rise of working-class movements, the development of managerial hierarchies to oversee the division of labour, and the emergence of new patterns of authority; and struggles against externalities such as industrial pollution and urban crowding.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on Industrial Revolution, visit Britannica.com.
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