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industrial revolution

  A transformation of the forces of production, centring on (but not confined to) the circuit of industrial capital (see capitalism). The term is most usually applied to the series of changes within the British economy between c. 1750 and c. 1850, but it has also been used in a number of other contexts. Some writers claim to have identified an \'industrial revolution\' in Europe in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, based on technical change and the growth of large-scale capitalist organizations (Nef, 1934-35; see Musson, 1978); others speak of a \'Second Industrial Revolution\' at the close of the nineteenth and beginning of the twentieth centuries, in which industrial hegemony passed from Britain, \'the first industrial nation\', to Germany and the USA, based on the growth of steel, engineering and electricity and a new scientific\' organization of the labour process (Taylorism: see Landes, 1969); yet others speak of a further industrial revolution in the late twentieth century, based on the emergence of high-technology, so-called sunrise industries with a new global geography of production (see flexible accumulation; new international division of labour).

However, virtually all of these variant usages take as their point of reference the classical Industrial Revolution in Britain. Most writers attribute the term to Blanqui in 1837: \'Just as the French revolution witnessed great social experiences of earthshaking proportions, England began to undergo the same process on the terrain of industry\' (see Tribe, 1981). As the comparison implied, the process was as much social and political as it was economic, but it was far from being as \'revolutionary\' as Blanqui and most subsequent commentators assumed. The epic image of the Industrial Revolution as \'Prometheus Unbound\' (Landes, 1969) — in Greek mythology Prometheus stole fire from the gods for the benefit of humankind — has been sharply qualified in recent years: it now seems likely that industrial growth started earlier in the eighteenth century (see protoindustrialization), that the industrial sector was then much larger (and its growth more diffuse), and that its expansion later in the eighteenth century was correspondingly less dramatic than conventional accounts allowed (Crafts, 1985). This is not to say that industrialization was a smooth and uninterrupted process, however, and investment in industrial production was often jagged and punctuated by national and regional crises of capital accumulation and circulation (see crisis: Gregory, 1984); industrialization was also uneven over space, and indeed one of the most striking features of the new industrial space-economy was its heterogeneity (see Langton and Morris, 1986). Over 40 years ago, Dobb (1946) argued that \'the unevenness of development as between different industries\' was \'one of the leading features of the period\', and later studies have confirmed his views. Marx, whose critique of political economy in Capital was centred around an analysis of the Industrial Revolution in Britain, was undoubtedly right to draw attention to the significance of the transformation of the labour process and in particular in the transition from manufacture to machinofacture in the emergence of industrial capitalism (see Dunford and Perrons, 1983); and several geographers have outlined the contributions made by \'heavy industries\' such as textiles, coal and iron to the transformation of the manufacturing sector (e.g. Warren, 1976). \'Their growth was connected to important and sometimes dramatic changes — in the resource base of industrialization, and these often excited the imaginations and aroused the fears of those who had to live through them\' (Wrigley, 1988; Gregory, 1990). But in so far as capitalism is characterized by a process of uneven development it is scarcely surprising that, as Samuel (1977) put it:

If one looks at the economy as a whole rather than at its most novel and striking features, a less orderly canvas might be drawn — one bearing more resemblance to a Bruegel or even a Hieronymus Bosch than to the geometrical regularities of a modern abstract. The industrial landscape would be seen to be full of diggings and pits as well as tall factory chimneys. Smithies would sprout in the shadows of the furnaces, sweatshops in those of the looms. Agricultural labourers might take up the foreground, armed with sickle or scythe, while behind them troops of women and children would be bent double over the ripening crops in the field … In the middle distance there might be navvies digging sewers and paviours laying flags. On the building sites there would be a bustle of man-powered activity, with house-painters on ladders and slaters nailing roofs. Carters would be loading and unloading horses, market-women carrying baskets of produce on their heads; dockers balancing weights. The factories would be hot and steamy, with men stripped to the singlet and juvenile runners in bare feet. At the lead works women would be carrying pots of poisonous metal on their heads, in the bleachers shed they would be stitching yards of chlorined cloth, at a shoddy mill sorting rags. Instead of calling [the] picture \'machinery\' the artist might prefer to label it \'toil\'.This is indeed to speak of a landscape rather than a space-economy, and to conjure up a series of changes in cultural forms and sensibilities that have only recently attracted attention in human geography (see Daniels, 1992). Those sensibilities were, of course, more than aesthetic and they entered into the construction of a vigorous geography of popular culture through which many of the new work-disciplines, their divisions of class and gender, and the framing assumptions of the new \'political economy\' were sharply contested (see Thompson, 1968; Pinchbeck, 1969). But these have attracted comparatively little attention in geography; where they have been considered, the focus has usually been on contours of class struggle (Gregory, 1984) rather than geographies of gender and patriarchy (but see McDowell and Massey, 1984). For the most part, however, discussion has centred on the economic integuments of the regional geography of the Industrial Revolution. Indeed, Berg (1985) attributes the \'persistence of traditional forms of organization and labour-intensive techniques\' so vividly present in Samuels\'s vignettes to what she calls \'the different micro-economies of the various sectors and industries\' and to \'the regional and cyclical pattern of industrialization\' (emphasis added). A number of studies have reconstructed the geographies of regional production systems during the Industrial Revolution (e.g. Langton, 1979; Gregory, 1982; Hudson, 1989), but it has also been argued that the Industrial Revolution accentuated the regional specialization of production. The most sustained discussion of the question has been provided by Langton (1984, 1988), who attributed \'the essentially regional structure of the emerging manufacturing economy of the time\' to its dependence on canal transportation. Far from forming a coherent system, the canals were disjointed and disarticulated, and long-distance flows along them were interrupted by transfers between one carrier and another. The vast majority of shipments were therefore over short distances, to and from the major ports, and in consequence the canal-based economies \'became more specialized, more differentiated from each other and more internally unified\' (Langton, 1984; see also Turnbull, 1987). This growing fragmentation between regions was more than economic; in Langton\'s view it was repeated in the dissolution of regional alliances, in the disunity of social protests and in the dismemberment of trades unions once they reached out from their regional bases. Regional economies found expression in coherent regional cultures. It was not until the coming of the railways, Langton concluded, that \'longterm processes of integration were set in motion\'. It was then that \'London again began to exert the sway over national commerce that it had lost to the canal-based regional capitals\' (see also Calhoun, 1987).

Against these views, or as a supplement to them, Freeman (1984) argued that Langton \'over-stated the case for economic regionalism during the earlier phases of industrialization and under-stated it for the later ones\'. The importance of the canal system is undeniable, Freeman concedes, but much of it was not operational until 1800 and both coastwise shipping and land carriage over the turnpike system ensured that spheres of trade were much less circumscribed than Langton allowed (see Pawson, 1977; Freeman, 1980; Freeman and Aldcroft, 1983). Furthermore, Freeman dismissed \'the view which casts railways as a uniform cohesive agency\' as \'a convenient, if widely current fiction\'. On the contrary, the railway network was divided \'between a multiplicity of independent companies, sometimes serving highly discrete geographical areas and much of the time operating freight pricing policies which discriminated in favor of the part of the country they served\'. The result, Freeman (1984) concluded, was \'to describe for the railways much the same role that Langton conceives for the inland waterway system\': that is to say, much rail traffic was also short-haul, \'between consuming or producing areas and major ports\', and although this system of flows was evidently part of the internationalization of the Victorian economy it neither required nor resulted in the systematic integration of the space-economy.

However, this exchange revolved around the production and circulation of commodities, and later contributions have focused on non-commodity forms. Analyses of the mobility of skilled labour (Southall, 1988, 1991a, b) of the circulation of capital (Black, 1989) and the dissemination of public and private information (Gregory, 1987) have revealed an even more complex picture in which regional differentiation and integration are two sides of the same coin, and in which London acted as a vital commercial and financial pivot between Britain and the world-economy. But it is also important not to lose sight of London\'s national political and cultural functions (Gregory, 1988). Although there has been considerable interest in municipal government, however, and in the social geographies of industrial towns and cities (Dennis, 1984), historical geographers have paid little attention to the formal domains of national politics — to electoral geographies, the geographies of the state apparatus and its institutions — or to the more subterranean modes of regulating and \'disciplining\' the new industrial society: but there are encouraging signs that this is beginning to change (see Driver, 1988, 1993; Ogbom, 1992). In any event, there remain many other geographies of industrialization to be reconstructed and interrogated, and to feed in to debates within the wider discipline. (DG)

References Berg, M. 1985: The age of manufacturers: industry, innovation and work in Britain 1700-1820. London: Fontana. Black, I. 1989: Geography, political economy and the circulation of finance capital in early industrial England. Journal of Historical Geography 15: 366-84. Calhoun, C. 1987: Class, place and industrial revolution. In N. Thrift, and P. Williams, eds, Class and space: the making of urban society. London: Unwin Hyman, 51-72. Crafts, N. 1985: British economic growth during the Industrial Revolution. Oxford: Clarendon Press. Daniels, S. 1992: The implications of industry: Turner and Leeds. In T. Barnes, and J. Duncan, eds, Writing worlds: discourse, text and metaphor in the representation of landscape. London: Routledge, 38-49. Dennis, R. 1984: English industrial cities of the nineteenth century: a social geography. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Dobb, M. 1946: Studies in the development of capitalism. London: Routledge. Driver, F. 1988: Moral geographies: social science and the urban environment in mid-nineteenth century England. Transactions, Institute of British Geographers NS 13: 275-87. Driver, F. 1993: An historical geography of the Poor Law in England. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Dunford, M. and Perrons, D. 1983: The arena of capital. London: Macmillan. Freeman, M. 1980: Road transport in the English industrial revolution: an interim reassessment. Journal of Historical Geography 6: 17-28. Freeman, M. 1984: The industrial revolution and the regional geography of England: a comment. Transactions, Institute of British Geographers NS 9: 502-12. Freeman, M. and Aldcroft, D., eds, 1983: Transport in the industrial revolution. Manchester: Manchester University Press. Gregory, D. 1982: Regional transformation and industrial revolution: a geography of the Yorkshire woollen industry. London: Macmillan. Gregory, D. 1984: Contours of crisis? Sketches for a geography of class struggle in the early industrial revolution in England. In A.R.H. Baker, and D. Gregory, eds, Explorations in historical geography: interpretative essays. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 68-117. Gregory, D. 1987: The friction of distance? Information circulation and the mails in early nineteenth-century England. Journal of Historical Geography 13: 130-54. Gregory, D. 1988: The production of regions in England\'s Industrial Revolution. Journal of Historical Geography 14: 50-8. Gregory, D. 1990: \'A new and differing face in many places\': Three geographies of industrialization. In R.A. Dodgshon and R.A. Butlin, eds, An historical geography of England and Wales, 2nd edn. London: Academic Press, 351-99. Hudson, P., ed., 1989: Regions and industries: a perspective on the industrial revolution in Britain. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Landes, D. 1969: The unbound Prometheus: technological change and industrial development in Western Europe from 1750 to the present. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Langton, J. 1979: Geographical change and industrial revolution: coal mining in south west Lancashire 1590-1799. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Langton, J. 1984: The Industrial Revolution and the regional geography of England. Transactions, Institute of British Geographers NS 9: 145-67. Langton, J. 1988: The production of regions in England\'s Industrial Revolution: a response. Journal of Historical Geography 14: 170-4. Langton, J. and Morris, R.J., eds, 1986: Atlas of industrializing Britain. London: Methuen. McDowell, L. and D. Massey, 1984: A woman\'s place? In D. Massey, and J. Allen, eds, Geography matters! A reader. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 128-47. Musson, A.E. 1978: The growth of British industry. London: Batsford. Nef, J. 1934-5: The progress of technology and the growth of large-scale industry in Britain, 1540-1640. Economic History Review 5: 3-24. Ogborn, M. 1992: Love-state-ego: \'centres\' and \'margins\' in nineteenth-century Britain. Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 10: 287-305. Pawson, E. 1977: Transport and economy: the turnpike roads of eighteenth-century Britain. London: Academic Press. Pinchbeck, I. 1969: Women workers and the industrial revolution 1750-1850. London: Virago. Samuel, R. 1977:Workshop of the world: steam power and hand technology in mid-Victorian Britain. History Workshop Journal 3: 6-72. Southall, H. 1988: Towards a geography of early unionization: the spatial organization and distribution of early British trade unions. Transactions, Institute of British Geographers NS 13: 466-83. Southall, H. 1991a: The tramping artisan revisited: labour mobility and economic distress in early Victorian England. Economic History Review 44: 272-96. Southall, H. 1991b: Mobility, the artisan community and popular politics in early nineteenth-century England. In G. Kearns and C. Withers, eds, Urbanising Britain: essays on class and community in the nineteenth century. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 103-30. Thompson, E.P. 1968: The making of the English working class. London: Penguin. Tribe, K. 1981: Genealogies of capitalism. London: Macmillan. Turnbull, G. 1987: Canals, coal and regional growth during the industrial revolution. Economic History Review 40: 537-60. Warren, K. 1976: The geography of British heavy industry since 1800. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Wrigley, E.A. 1988: Continuity, chance and change: the character of the Industrial Revolution in England. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Suggested Reading Gregory (1990). Langton (1984). Langton and Morris (1986). Samuel (1977).



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