[World history] Industrial Revolution • 18th Century • Facts • Causes • Features • Impact • Cheat Sheet


In the last post, we discussed world history in brief. We came to know that modern world history is the story of transition. As UPSC syllabus begins with the industrial revolution, here we will discuss the background, causes, features and impact of the industrial revolution.

What is the Industrial Revolution?

Industrial revolution refers to the increased output of the machine-made goods that started in England and soon spread to the other countries. It is the change from agrarian, handicraft economy to one dominated by industrial, machine manufacturing.

Why the Industrial Revolution is Important?

Causes of the Industrial Revolution

causes of industrial revolution

Geographical discoveries and World Trade

Geographical discoveries –> World Trade –> Demand –> Demand increased beyond human capacity –> Need of new methods to produce goods –> Demand was high.

Geographical discoveries and World Trade increased the volume of trade and Commerce to such a level that it went beyond human production and this acted as a ground for the industrial revolution.


  • It is the system where private owners control the trade and commerce of a nation.
  • The sole motive is PROFIT.

Role Capitalism in the Industrial Revolution 

  • Geographical discoveries increased the demand for goods. The capitalist class saw it as an opportunity. They supplied to the demand. 
  • Capitalist class established Royal Society of labour to promote research and development.
  • Before that, production was based on traditional domestic set up. But large scale production required modern machines and sound infrastructure.
  • Capitalist class invested in machines, infrastructure and research.

So we can say that the capitalist class acted as fuel in the industrial revolution.

Scientific discoveries and inventions

Scientific discoveries and inventions provided necessary spark for the Industrial Revolution.

  • Hargreaves invented the spinning wheel with good speed.
  • Arkwright invented the spinning wheel run by water.
  • Crompton allied both features but it still had limitations of human production.
  • The biggest contribution was of Newcomen who invented the steam engine
  • Later, James Watt refined steam engine
  • Samuel Morse invented the telegraph in 1837. Communication became faster with the use of morse code.
  • Eli Whitney invented Cotton Gin in 1793. It could clean seeds from cotton quickly.

All of these made the process of industrialisation faster. Now, goods can be transported faster with steamboat. Steamboat improved river transportation. 

Policy of Colonisation

  • Colonies provided oxygen to fire of industrial revolution.
  • Big production required a constant supply of raw materials. Consequently, the colonies provided raw materials.

For example,

  • Queen Elizabeth, I started an official policy of settlement in North America in the beginning of the 17th century which led to the emergence of British colonies in North America.
  • Portuguese started the conquest of the Indian subcontinent from 1510 but the British took the initiative from 1757 until 1853.
  • Indian subcontinent turned into a powerhouse for British industrialisation.

Why the Industrial Revolution Started in Europe?

Glorious Revolution

King was bankrupt in 1215 and bourgeoise class helped him. King gave ups some of his rights and it started democratic development in British started in 1215, which reached its peak in 1688. 

The Glorious Revolution, also called “The Revolution of 1688” and “The Bloodless Revolution,” was a peaceful transformation which took place from 1688-1689 in England. Revolution involved the overthrow of the Catholic (conservative) King James II, who was replaced by his Protestant (liberal) daughter Mary and her Dutch husband, William of Orange. 

Monarchy –> Glorious Revolution –> Parliamentary Sovereignty 

In short, parliament fully became supreme. Notably, in parliament the capitalist class had larger say. So Britain policies of trade and commerce developed around them.

Availability of Capital and Drain of Wealth from India

Although Britain had a late entry in geographical discoveries, imperialism and colonialism but the conquest of India provided required capital for the industrial revolution. ex

  • 1750: Industrial revolution
  • 1757: battle of Plassey
  • 1764: Battle of Buxar

From here starts drain of the wealth of India in the form bribes and gifts. 

Agriculture Revolution

Series of ENCOLUSRE ACTS were passed in this period. Enclosure acts increased the productivity with new farming practices like crops rotation and so on. It led to greater food production. More food was available. So the larger population can sustain with long life. 

Also, Enclosure Movement fenced the land and snatched the land from peasants. It created a new labour class which moved to the cities. The population of cities sky-rocketed.

Peasants were looking for jobs and capitalist were looking for increasing production. 

Natural Resources

Britain had iron for building machines and coal for running those machines. Also, rivers provided waterpower and routes for transporting raw materials and finished goods. Colonies which were the supplier of raw materials also provided large markets.

Revolution in Infrastructure

In this era of industrialisation and commercialization, it became important to move in a specific direction and this became the cause for coming of steamboats. Transportation of huge amounts of raw materials and goods created the ground for Railways and macadamized road while gradually demand and supply led to the Communication Revolution.

Britain as Naval Power

Navy played a key role in dominating the seas. Inventions like steam-powered boat made transportation faster. Boats became larger so now they could carry large material at a time.

Changes in agriculture pattern and promotion to the Mining industry

Agriculture became a contemporary to the Industrial Revolution as it was the main supplier of raw materials to industries. This gave promotion to cash crops like cotton, jute, Indigo etc. Iron became lifeline of the industrial revolution so the mining industry got momentum with the Industrial Revolution.

Significance of Industrial Revolution – Facts

  • The industrial revolution started with the textile industry. 
  • Allowed more goods to be produced at a faster rate within a short amount of time.
  • Revolution encouraged commercialisation of agriculture.
  • Men, women and children worked for long hours for negligible pay.
  • Working conditions were cramped, humid, loud machines and inhumane.

Impact of Industrial Revolution


  • Impact on Economy: IR promoted industrial capitalism i.e. big business houses controlling the large part of the production of the nation.
  • Mercantilism: Subjugation of a country and its economy for benefit of the mother country. It means regulation of wealth with promoting exports and limiting imports. 
  • Rise of Nation-States: Capitalism gave a turn to the political system as it led to the emergence of powerful monarchies called the Nation States. Also capitalist class enjoyed larger say in this nation-states.
  • Nationalism: People with same aspirations came together to fight colonialism or answer imperialism. So capitalism eventually led to the birth of the concept of nation and nationalism. Ex. Unification of Italy and Germany. 
  • Democratic Development: Increase in participation of people in Administrative structure became the ground for democratic development. Ex. American Revolution.
  • Workers Movements: Capitalism led of to miserable condition of workers which was not understood by initial labour leaders. Luddite a labour leader in Britain started destroying modern industries and this was called Luddite movement which became bASE for political philosophies like Communism socialism etc.
  • Impact on Society: Capitalism believes in the principle of talent and profits this become the important cause for Liberation of suppressed class. For example, Britain in 1773 became the first country to abolish slavery.
  • Impact on Religion: With the change in Economy the old Catholic principles became a hurdle for new development and this becomes an important cause for the protestant (liberal) movement. 

Therefore the Industrial Revolution transformed the existing economic, political, social, religious order. This new order led to many important developments like the American Revolution.

WATCH: Industrial Revolution Explained in 7 Minutes (Click The Image)


Ask Your Doubts on Instagram (DM)


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here