Industrialization Definition

What is industrialization?

Industrialization is the process by which an economy changes from a predominantly agricultural economy to one based on the manufacturing of goods. Individual manual labor is often replaced by mechanized labor mass production, and craftsmen are replaced by assembly lines. Characteristics of industrialization include economic growththe more efficient division of labor and the use of technological innovation to solve problems as opposed to reliance on conditions beyond human control.

Key points to remember

  • Industrialization is a transformation from an economy based on agriculture or resources to an economy based on mass manufacturing.
  • Industrialization is generally associated with increases in total income and standard of living in a society.
  • Early industrialization occurred in Europe and North America during the 18th and 19th centuries, and later in other parts of the world.
  • Many industrialization strategies have been pursued in different countries over time, with varying levels of success.


Understanding Industrialization

Industrialization is most often associated with Europe Industrial Revolution from the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Industrialization also occurred in the United States between the 1880s and the Great Depression. The start of the World War II also led to heavy industrialization, which resulted in the growth and development of large urban centers and suburbs. Industrialization is an outgrowth of capitalism, and its effects on society are still indeterminate to some extent; however, this resulted in a lower birth rate and a higher average income.


Industrial Revolution

The industrial revolution has its roots in the late 18th century in Great Britain. Before the proliferation of industrial manufacturing facilities, manufacturing and processing was usually done by hand in people’s homes. The steam engine was a key invention, as it allowed for many different types of machinery. The growth of the metal and textile industries enabled the mass production of basic personal and commercial goods. As manufacturing activities expanded, transportation, finance, and communications industries grew to support new productive capacities.

The Industrial Revolution led to an unprecedented expansion of wealth and financial well-being for some. It has also led to increased labor specialization and enabled cities to support larger populations, motivating rapid demographic change. People left rural areas in large numbers, seeking potential fortunes in fledgling industries. The revolution quickly spread beyond Britain, with manufacturing centers being established in continental Europe and the United States.


Later periods of industrialization

World War II created unprecedented demand for certain manufactured goods, leading to an increase in production capacity. After the war, reconstruction in Europe was accompanied by a massive population expansion in North America. This provided further catalysts that kept capacity utilization high and spurred further growth in industrial activity. Innovation, specialization and the creation of wealth were the causes and effects of the industrialization of this period.

The late 20th century was notable for rapid industrialization in other parts of the world, especially in East Asia. The Asian Tigers (Hong Kong, South Korea, Taiwan, and Singapore) are well known for economic growth that has altered their countries/districts. China experienced its own industrial revolution after moving towards a more mixed economy and moving away from heavy central planning.


Modes of industrialization

Different industrialization strategies and methods were followed at different times and places with degrees of success.

The industrial revolution in Europe and the United States first took place under generally mercantilist and protectionist government policies that fostered the early growth of the industry, but were later associated with a laissez-faire Where Free market approach that opened markets to foreign trade as an outlet for industrial production.

In the post-World War II period, developing countries in Latin America and Africa adopted a strategy of import substitution industrializationwhich involved protectionist barriers to trade coupled with direct subsidies or the nationalization of domestic industries.

Almost at the same time, parts of Europe and several East Asian economies pursued an alternative strategy of export-led growth. This strategy emphasized the deliberate pursuit of foreign trade to create export industries and relied in part on maintaining a weak currency to make exports more attractive to foreign buyers. In general, export-led growth has outstripped import-substituting industrialization.

Finally, the socialist nations of the 20th century repeatedly embarked on various deliberate and centrally planned programs of industrialization almost entirely independent of domestic or foreign commercial markets. These include the first and second five-year plans of the Soviet Union and the big leap forward in China.

While these efforts reoriented the respective economies towards a more industrial base and increased production of industrial goods, they were also accompanied by harsh government repression, deteriorating living and working conditions for workers and even from widespread starvation.

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