The Industrial Revolution spread from Great Britain to the continent, where the state played a greater role in promoting industry.
The transition from an agricultural to an industrial economy began in Britain
in the 18th century, spread to France and Germany between 1850 and 1870,
and finally to Russia in the 1890s. The governments of those countries actively supported industrialization. In southern and eastern Europe, some pockets of industry developed, surrounded by traditional agrarian economies. Although continental nations sought to borrow from and in some instances imitate the British model — the success of which was represented by the Crystal Palace Exhibition in 1851 — each nation’s experience of industrialization was shaped by its own matrix of geographic, social, and political factors. The legacy of the revolution in France, for example, led to a more gradual adoption of mechanization in production, ensuring a more incremental industrialization than was the case in Britain. Despite the creation of a customs union in the 1830s, Germany’s lack of political unity hindered its industrial development. However, following unification in 1871, the German Empire quickly came to challenge British dominance in key industries, such as steel, coal, and chemicals.
Beginning in the 1870s, the European economy fluctuated widely because of
the vagaries of financial markets. Continental states responded by assisting
and protecting the development of national industry in a variety of ways, the
most important being protective tariffs, military procurements, and colonial conquests. Key economic stakeholders, such as corporations and industrialists, expected governments to promote economic development by subsidizing ports, transportation, and new inventions; registering patents and sponsoring education; encouraging investments and enforcing contracts; and maintaining order and preventing labor strikes. State intervention reached its culmination in the 20th century, when some governments took over direction of the entire process of industrial development under the pressure of war and depression and/or from ideological commitments.
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Great Britain established its industrial dominance through the mechanization of textile production, iron and steel production, and new transportation systems.
Following the British example, industrialization took root in continental Europe, sometimes with state sponsorship.
During the second industrial revolution (c. 1870-1914), more areas of Europe experienced industrial activity, and industrial processes increased in scale and complexity.
Pages below are from Jackson Spielvogel's Western Civilization, Updated 9th AP Edition
Reading assignment 1: