The Industrial Revolution1

The Industrial Revolution It has, been variously called the “Western Miracle” (Rosenberg and Birdzell 42) and the “European Miracle,” (Jones) but it is commonly known as the Industrial Revolution. Subsequent to the Middle Ages, populations in Western Europe began developing technology that enhanced their ability to generate products and which led to significantly higher standards of living than populations elsewhere on the planet. It should be noted that this does not suggest that the quality of life was better for the Europeans, only that even the poorest European was materially better off than his counterpart in India or China. This research examines why the Industrial Revolution took place in Europe, and why it did not occur elsewhere, specifically Asia. Analysts who have taken on the question of why the industrial revolution occurred in Europe have proposed several theories, each of which, alone, fails to adequately explain the phenomenon. Some have attributed the industrialization to imperialism, but some economically successful countries grew prosperous before imperialism and some, such as Norway and Switzerland, avoided imperialism altogether. Possession of natural resources has also been put forth as a possible answer. Unfortunately, natural resources do not become economic assets until the knowledge and means of using them (technology) becomes available. In addition, Japan, with far fewer natural resources than Mexico and the Soviet Union, for example, has become a highly successful economic entity. City-states which were successful during the early stages of the industrial revolution, such as Venice, also suggest limitations to the physical resources idea (Rosenberg and Birdzell 42-43). While the above theories cannot account for the industrial revolution of Europe alone, they can be combined and, with other components, used to produce a workable theory as to why the “miracle” occurred in Europe and not the O…

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