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Reconceptualizing the Industrial Revolution
This collection of essays offers new perspectives on the Industrial Revolution as a global phenomenon. The fifteen contributors go beyond the longstanding view of industrialization as a linear process marked by discrete stages. Instead, they examine a lengthy and creative period in the history of industrialization, 1750 to 1914, reassessing the nature of and explanations for England’s industrial primacy, and comparing significant industrial developments in countries ranging from China to Brazil. Each chapter explores a distinctive national production ecology, a complex blend of natural resources, demographic pressures, cultural impulses, technological assets, and commercial practices. At the same time, the chapters also reveal the portability of skilled workers and the permeability of political borders. The Industrial Revolution comes to life in discussions of British eagerness for stylish, middle-class products; the Enlightenment’s contribution to European industrial growth; early America’s incremental (rather than revolutionary) industrialization; the complex connections between Czarist and Stalinist periods of industrial change in Russia; Japan’s late and rapid turn to mechanized production; and Brazil’s industrial-financial boom. By exploring unique national patterns of industrialization as well as reciprocal exchanges and furtive borrowing among these states, the book refreshes the discussion of early industrial transformations and raises issues still relevant in today’s era of globalization.
About the Editors
Jeff Horn is Professor of History at Manhattan College and the author of three books, including The Path Not Taken: French Industrialization in the Age of Revolution, 1750-1839 (MIT Press, 2006).
Merritt Roe Smith is Cutten Professor of the History of Technology at MIT and the author or editor of six books, most recently Inventing America: A History of the United States.