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The Technological Stimulus of the Industrial Revolution - Essay Example

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The Technological Stimulus of the Industrial Revolution

The technology that continued to drive the Industrial Revolution came in the form of invention and innovation. Invention, and the implementation of the invention, was merely the first step in the process. It is estimated that the period of invention terminated in 1780 (McCloskey 251). All progress after that date was due to innovations on existing technology. Initially, the textile mills located their factories near sources of water that were needed to drive the water wheel technology. The introduction of the steam engine radically changed the economics of the textile industry. No longer forced to relocate workers to the site of the source of power, manufacturers were free to build factories at the population centers that provided a ready supply of cheap labor.
Aside from solving the labor issue, steam power was not subject to the changes in weather and seasonal variations that water was. Water was subject to drought and in the attempt to make up for losses in the dry period, water driven mills were often forced to employ child labor during high productivity periods. The loss of this labor source reduced the value of water. Though the cost of water may have been competitive, it could never be a reach the production levels of steam. Without the introduction of the invention of steam, the textile industry could never have reached an economy of scale. ...
However, there were some major differences in the economy of the production of iron. Iron experienced an unprecedented level of growth in production during the period of 1780-1860. However, it did not see an improvement in the productivity that was noted in textiles (McCloskey 251). While the cost of textiles fell dramatically during this period, the cost of iron fell less sharply. McCloskey has attributed this to the rising cost of inputs, mainly coal, that were required in the production of iron (251). The production level of iron was spurred by improved technology, but an influx of capital could not significantly raise the level of productivity.
The inventions and innovations also aided the high levels of production and improved productivity during the Industrial Revolution in transportation. Transportation not only increased trade, but also facilitated the transport of local raw materials and finished goods. While McCloskey puts the value of transportation during this period at about 6% of the national income, it may have been a resource whose dynamic effect is difficult to calculate (258). The development of roads and waterways was reflected in the overall cost of transporting cloth from a remote mill to a commerce center. The eventual reduction in the cost of transportation through technological improvements would further raise the level of productivity. Transportation moved the finished goods and allowed for the importation of raw cheaper materials. Critics, however, have argued that the peripheral economic benefits of transportation, including the expansion of trade, amount to very little (McCloskey 258). However, even outside the textile sector, exports grew among almost all manufactured goods though they were ...Show more

Summary

The period of 1780 - 1860 has been viewed as one of the most explosive periods of economic growth in British history. The Industrial Revolution was primarily focused on the rapid expansion in the iron, textiles, and transportation industries while others experienced much slower growth…
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The Technological Stimulus of the Industrial Revolution essay example
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