The Causes of Industrial Revolution of the 18th Century
The causes of the Industrial Revolution were complicated and remain a topic for debate, with some historians believing the Revolution was an outgrowth of social and institutional changes brought by the end of feudalism in Britain after the English Civil War in the 17th century. As national border controls became more effective, the spread of disease was lessened, thereby preventing the epidemics common in previous times. The percentage of children who lived past infancy rose significantly, leading to a larger workforce. The Enclosure movement and the British Agricultural Revolution made food production more efficient and less labour-intensive, forcing the surplus population who could no longer find employment in agriculture into cottage industry, for example weaving, and in the longer term into the cities and the newly developed factories. The colonial expansion of the 17th century with the accompanying development of international trade, creation of financial markets and accumulation of capital are also cited as factors, as is the scientific revolution of the 17th century.
Until the 1980s, it was universally believed by academic historians that technological innovation was the heart of the Industrial Revolution and the key enabling technology was the invention and improvement of the steam engine. However, recent research into the Marketing Era has challenged the traditional, supply-oriented interpretation of the Industrial Revolution.
Lewis Mumford has proposed that the Industrial Revolution had its origins in the Early Middle Ages, much earlier than most estimates. He explains that the model for standardised mass production was the printing press and that "the archetypal model for the industrial era was the clock". He also cites the monastic emphasis on order and time-keeping, as well as the fact that medieval cities had at their centre a church with bell ringing at regular...