The Industrial Revolution in World History

By Peter N. Stearns | Go to book overview

14
A Postindustrial Revolution?

The established industrial societies in the 1950s centered in North America, Western Europe, Australia/ New Zealand, Eastern Europe, and Japan. All began to generate explosive further industrial growth during the 1950s. The results followed many of the lines set by the previous industrial revolution--extensions of new technologies, introduction of new products, more sophisticated organizational forms--but sheer expansion created some novel results. Further, it became increasingly apparent--by the 1960s and 1970s--that more fundamental changes were occurring as a new generation of industrial technologies seized center stage; these, too, had widespread social effects, altering yet again the definition of industrialization's wider impact.

Amid both growth and change, the balance among the established industrial sectors shifted. Western Europe displayed unexpected new vigor, and Japan surged to the top for the first time. Redefinitions of established industrial technology and work increased the gap between the world's economic leaders and many other countries, even ones, like Brazil, that could point to substantial change in their own right. These same redefinitions, along with the rise of the Pacific Rim, set a framework for the world's industrial economy generally.


Growth Rates

Between 1960 and 1990, manufacturing output in the United States more than doubled, growing by 134 percent--and this was the lowest growth rate of any major industrial nation outside the communist bloc. Manufacturing in Canada expanded 137 percent, in Britain 195 percent, in Sweden 200 percent. Other European countries tripled or quadrupled their output--Germany by 226 percent, France by 323 percent, Italy by 375 percent. Japan, in its own league, posted an almost sevenfold increase--666 percent.

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