This chapter is concerned with cbmparatively early capitalist industrializations. Britain is examined in some detail, with particular attention paid to the questions of agency, development and the world market. The difference between Britain and later capitalist industrializations is very briefly examined, with a particular focus on the role of the state. I then illustrate these differences through an examination of Japanese industrialization.
The industrial revolution in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Britain is the first case of large-scale industrialization. For some writers (e.g. Rostow 1985) it is regarded as a model for other countries to follow. My brief account of the industrial revolution below is intended to do two closely related things: first, to question the assumption that Britain represents a “model” for late industrializers; and second, to question the idea that the industrial revolution in Britain was primarily a revolution in economic growth caused by expanding output, which in turn was simply a consequence of neutral technological innovation. These questions are addressed in three parts: (a) an assessment of technological and social factors; (b) an assessment of the relationship between British industrialization and the international division of labour; (c) an assessment of the relationship between industrialization and “living standards”.
For a number of writers, the causes of the British industrial revolution are quite simple. This revolution was primarily caused by a particular set of human values combining with certain technologies, and thus producing the world's most farreaching industrialization process. The implication is that the British industrialization experience can be replicated elsewhere and so constitutes a model for the Third World today. Eisenstadt (1966:1) has outlined this position:
Historically, modernization is the process of change toward those types of social, economic and political systems that have developed in Western Europe and North America from the seventeenth century.