The Industrial Revolution in World History

By Peter N. Stearns | Go to book overview

6
The Industrial Revolution Changes Stripes

Four major developments defined the second phase of the industrial revolution in world history: industrialization outside the West; redefinition of the West's industrial economy; growing involvement of nonindustrial parts of the world; and intensification of international impact. This phase began to take shape in the late nineteenth century, though no firm markers divided it from previous trends. Several Western societies, including Germany and the United States, were still actively completing their basic revolutionary transformation, becoming more fully urban and committed to the factory system as their manufacturing power presented new challenges to Britain, the established industrial power. Large numbers of new workers, fresh from the countryside, still poured into German and, particularly, American factories, experiencing much of the same shock of adjustment to a new work life that earlier arrivals had faced a few decades before. Other trends continued: The West retained its international lead in industrialization, and the growth of large business organizations persisted.


Second-Phase Trends

Newer trends gained ground. Several major new players began to industrialize by the 1880s and were the first clearly non-Western societies to undergo an industrial revolution. Russia's industrial revolution had a massive impact on world diplomacy. Japan's revolution altered world diplomacy as well and ultimately had an even greater effect on the international balance of economic power. The focal point of the second phase of the industrial revolution involved the transformation of these two key nations. By 1950, when their revolutionary phases were essentially complete, neither had matched the West's ongoing industrial strength.

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