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        Tom Kemp hailed the Industrial Revolution as a “transformation of a traditional agrarian economy into an urban society based on machine technology”. The industrialized societies of France, Britain and Germany saw a revolution marked by various economic, social and political changes which varied in their relative importance and lasting consequences on European society. In examining the separate effects of the Industrial Revolution on a pre-industrialized society marked by primitive technology and a lack of specialization, we must bear in mind that the process of industrialization had varied effects in different countries. Through an evaluation of the various differences, we will see that although these factors were often harmonized in creating the overall impact of industrialization, differences like the introduction of the factory system and the improvement in transports and communications had the most far reaching impact on European society.

        The introduction of the factory system into Europe pronounced the most significant change in the era of industrialization. The mechanization of the manufacturing process was a basic characteristic of the revolution, with the use of machinery exploiting new sources of productive energy and the power of air and water harnesses replacing animal labour. This was developed on a large scale in Britain for manufacturing in the 18th century, which was blessed with an abundance of coal that provided the pioneers of industrialization with raw material, and had a royal navy that maintained political security that stimulated business enterprise. As a result, textiles and mining were among the first branches of the economy that felt the effects of mechanical invention in Britain and came under the factory system. Technological advances like the fly shuttle and the spinning jenny contributed to the advance of the factory system as these were too bulky and expensive for home use and only suitable for large, coordinated output. All these meant that factories in Manchester, Paris and the Rhineland now became the microcosm of a larger, revolutionized system of job specialization, regimentation and massive increases in production. This had two major consequences.

Firstly, the factory system changed the organization of labour radically. In the past, workers lived on the basis of the subsistence system, with unsophisticated tools, cottage industries and hereditary land ownership meant that there was little upward mobility. Now, there was an uprooting of countless peasants from their villages to factories as technological inventions created the need for factories and private ownership introduced a greater incentive for effort by the profit motive. Secondly, the factory system also led to an increase in production that led to improvements in the material well being of society. Previously, trade was limited, and demand was often concentrated to the villages where guilds controlled wage systems and production. People could choose the number of hours and days they could work at home. However with the factory system, it created the possibility of meeting the demand for consumer goods on a large-scale basis, and the community entered the era of mass consumption. Export trade was encouraged in order to find new markets for produced goods, leading to commercial missions in foreign countries and the conquest of territories, which would contribute to new imperialism later on The factory system was the most significant difference between pre-industrialized and industrialized society because it meant a restructuring of traditional working culture and had slight spillover effects on the political state of countries, opening them up to other borders and making political relations more unbalanced and precarious. It moved European society on a path towards rapid modernization by contributing high growth rates in terms of production, which no other factor could achieve to such a large extent.

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        Another of the more important differences between pre-industrialized and industrialized society was the far-reaching demographic and social consequence. These were significant as they altered relationships among individuals and classes. The first category of social consequence was in their effect of changing people’s lives. T.S Ashton put it right in proclaiming “The outstanding feature of the social history of the period the thing that above all others distinguishes the age from its predecessors- was the rapid growth of population.” Between 1870 and 1914, the population of Europe doubled, rising from 290 to 435 million. Germany’s population grew from 41 million ...

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