British Economic History Essay

1545 words - 6 pages

Topic:''Industrial revolution implies dramatic changes in production techniques , but recent evidence suggests that such changes did not occur in Britain between 1760 and 1850.Hence ,''Industrial Revolution'' should not be used to describe this period in British Economic Development''.An introductionIntroduced by the economic historian Arnold Toynbee , the term Industrial Revolution is used to describe the changes that took place in Britain from 1760-1850 and transformed Britain from a country whose economy was based on agriculture to an urban country based on the sector of manufacturing and industry . The word ''revolution'' in this phrase implies that during this period mentioned above , unprecedented changes happened in technology , social structure and economy. However , new approaches today seem to revise this perception of the industrial revolution and put into question if it was really ''British'' , ''industrial'' and ''revolution''.No one doubts that during the period of 1760-1850 industrial production was influenced by technology. For example Arnold Toynbee emphasized the importance of 5 technologies,4 inventions and the Watt steam engine,which changed the production of cotton textile industry but as R.Floud and P.Johnson very ably comment : any proof by example should face the quantifier's challenge:How large? How long? How often? How representative? Nowadays , the answers to these questions seem to give an argument for those who support the idea that the growth rate during the industrial revolution was very slow. Indeed , productivity growth improved ,which to some extent occurred because of the new techniques introduced, but this improvement reflected on only some small sectors of the British economy in comparison with manufacturing for example that did not change dramatically before 1830.Thus , this productivity change , would take many years to be felt in the British Economy as a whole , since the slow growing sectors were ''absorbing'' the growth of the modern ones. Even if we agree that dramatic changes happened in production techniques during industrial revolution , these changes influenced only some limited sectors of the British Economy and did not contribute impressively to the economy as a whole during the ''traditional'' era of industrial revolution 1760-1850.Below there are two examples of changes in production techniques that are attributed to industrial revolution :Steam-powered enginesA ''Critical Technology'' is considered to be a ''power'' that plays a decisive role ,either in a direct or an indirect way on output and productivity growth (as an efficient production technique which helps to produce more with less labor units) . The use of these critical technologies ,which should bring great economic benefits ,were characteristically applied to the steam engine. Both Deane and Arnold Toynbee have stressed the significance of steam engines and have linked it with the industrial revolution itself. However , even the steam...

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