Understanding the Industrial Revolution

By Charles More | Go to book overview
Save to active project

Chapter 1

Models of the Industrial Revolution

Land, labour and capital

The various attempts to explain the Industrial Revolution can be described as ‘models’. An historical/economic ‘model’ is a simplified way of representing a set of economic processes - in this case, those processes which brought about the Industrial Revolution. The model provides a schematic outline which maps the broad sweep of reality - or of what the deviser of the model thinks is reality. Behind the models there are economic theories which explain why the processes outlined in the model should lead to economic growth. Theories differ, however, which is one reason for disagreement between writers on economic growth; another is the schematic nature of models, which means that it is difficult to construct a model which is simple, but is also a sufficient representation of reality. These two potential reasons for disagreement help to explain why it is so difficult to achieve consensus about the Industrial Revolution.

Underlying all the models is the concept of factors of production: land, labour and capital. Land appears self-explanatory as the essential medium for agricultural output. But the economist’s land also includes the minerals below the earth’s surface, and the latent power of wind and water; paradoxically, it also includes the fruits of the sea. In effect, ‘land’ to economists is shorthand for all the products of the natural world. Labour is more straightforward, since we all understand what work is; but there are complexities because workers can be more or less skilled. Capital has a dual meaning, as the funds which are used to finance some productive asset, and the asset itself. Capital assets include buildings to house machinery, the machinery itself, mines and other expensive items; and also such less obvious assets as the crafts-man’s tools, the farmer’s seedcorn, and the factory owner’s stocks of raw cotton.


Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Cite this page

Cited page

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Understanding the Industrial Revolution


Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen
/ 194

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?