Industrialisation period of social and economic change from agrarian to industrial society

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The effect of industrialisation shown by rising income levels in the 19th century. The graph is showing that the gross national product (at purchasing power parity) per capita between 1750 and 1900 in 1990 US dollars for First World nations (Europe, United States, Canada, Japan) and Third World nations (Asia, Africa, Latin America).[1]
Industrialization also means the mechanization of traditionally manual economic-sectors such as agriculture.

Industrialisation (or industrialization) is the period of social and economic change that transforms a human group from an agrarian society into an industrial society. This involves an extensive re-organisation of an economy for the purpose of manufacturing.[2] Historically industrialization is associated with increase of polluting industries heavily dependent on fossil fuels; however, with the increasing focus on sustainable development and green industrial policy practices, industrialization increasingly includes technological leapfrogging, with direct investment in more advanced, cleaner technologies.

The reorganization of the economy has many knock-on effects both economically and socially. As industrial workers' incomes rise, markets for consumer goods and services of all kinds tend to expand and provide a further stimulus to industrial investment and economic growth. Moreover, family structures tend to shift as extended families tend to no longer live together in one household,location or place.


After the last stage of the Proto-industrialization, the first transformation from an agricultural to an industrial economy is known as the Industrial Revolution and took place from the mid-18th to early 19th century in certain areas in Europe and North America; starting in Great Britain, followed by Belgium, Switzerland, Germany, and France.[3] Characteristics of this early industrialisation were technological progress, a shift from rural work to industrial labor, financial investments in new industrial structure, and early developments in class consciousness and theories related to this.[4] Later commentators have called this the First Industrial Revolution.[5]

The "Second Industrial Revolution" labels the later changes that came about in the mid-19th century after the refinement of the steam engine, the invention of the internal combustion engine, the harnessing of electricity and the construction of canals, railways and electric-power lines. The invention of the assembly line gave this phase a boost. Coal mines, steelworks, and textile factories replaced homes as the place of work. [6][7][8]

By the end of the 20th century, East Asia had become one of the most recently industrialised regions of the world.[9] The BRICS states (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) are undergoing the process of industrialisation.[4]

There is considerable literature on the factors facilitating industrial modernisation and enterprise development.[10]

Industrialization in East Asia

Between the early 1960s and 1990s, the Four Asian Tigers underwent rapid industrialization and maintained exceptionally high growth rates.

Social consequences

The Industrial revolution was accompanied with a great deal of changes on the social structure, the main change being a transition from farm work to factory related activities.[11] This resulted to the creation of a class structure that differentiated the commoners from the well off and the working category.It distorted the family system as most people moved into cities and left the farm areas, consequently playing a major role in the transmission of diseases. The place of women in the society then shifted from being home cares to employed workers hence reducing the number of children per household. Furthermore industrialization contributed to increased cases of child labor and thereafter education systems.[12]


Guangzhou dusk panorama

As the Industrial Revolution was a shift from the agrarian society, people migrated from villages in search of jobs to places where factories were established. This shifting of rural people led to urbanisation and increase in the population of towns. The concentration of labour in factories has increased urbanisation and the size of settlements, to serve and house the factory workers.


China, along with many other areas of the world run by industrialization, has been affected by the world’s never ending rise of supply and demand. With the largest population in the world, China has become one of the main exporters of objects from household items to high technology appliances.[13]

Changes in family structure

Family structure changes with industrialisation. Sociologist Talcott Parsons noted that in pre-industrial societies there is an extended family structure spanning many generations who probably remained in the same location for generations. In industrialised societies the nuclear family, consisting of only parents and their growing children, predominates. Families and children reaching adulthood are more mobile and tend to relocate to where jobs exist. Extended family bonds become more tenuous.[14]

Current situation

2006 GDP composition of sector and labour force by occupation. The green, red, and blue components of the colours of the countries represent the percentages for the agriculture, industry, and services sectors respectively.

As of 2018 the "international development community" (World Bank, Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD), many United Nations departments, FAO WHO ILO and UNESCO,[15] endorses development policies like water purification or primary education and co-operation amongst third world communities.[16] Some members of the economic communities do not consider contemporary industrialisation policies as being adequate to the global south (Third World countries) or beneficial in the longer term, with the perception that they may only create inefficient local industries unable to compete in the free-trade dominated political order which industrialisation has fostered. Environmentalism and Green politics may represent more visceral reactions to industrial growth. Nevertheless, repeated examples in history of apparently successful industrialisation (Britain, Soviet Union, South Korea, China, etc.) may make conventional industrialisation seem like an attractive or even natural path forward, especially as populations grow, consumerist expectations rise and agricultural opportunities diminish.

The relationships among economic growth, employment, and poverty reduction are complex. Higher productivity, it is argued, may lead to lower employment (see jobless recovery).[17] There are differences across sectors, whereby manufacturing is less able than the tertiary sector to accommodate both increased productivity and employment opportunities; more than 40% of the world's employees are "working poor", whose incomes fail to keep themselves and their families above the $2-a-day poverty line.[17] There is also a phenomenon of deindustrialisation, as in the former USSR countries' transition to market economies, and the agriculture sector is often the key sector in absorbing the resultant unemployment.[17]

Industrialization in Sub-Saharan Africa

The case of Sub-Saharan African countries not experiencing an industrial revolution is one reason I believe there has been a slow progress towards technological advancement. There have been recorded attempts of such progress in the past but those efforts were not impactful or long lasting (The Africa Competitiveness Report 2017). Even with this delay, it is believed that they are now beginning to adopt lasting technological growth, which is why Sub-Saharan African countries are tagged “Late Industrializers”. There have been arguments that the difference between technological growth now and then is that it has the ability reach a wider audience. Hence, it gives reason for one to be optimistic about technological growth in LDC’s


Bad policy is one of the major reasons why there has been slow growth in majority of  Sub-Saharan countries. There is a debate on if the lack of industrialization is due to bad luck or bad policy from the governance (Africa in focus, 2014), and ultimately the result form their report shows it is a combination of both.  I agree that it could be as a result of both but I strongly believe it is as a result of poor governance which rises from no checks or balances within the structure. To surmise, the bad policy and bad governance is as a result of corruption, a popular and recurring factor in the problems of Africa.


Learning and teaching is what defines education and proper education includes access to quality education that is beneficial to not only the individual but the society around them. According to Nelson Mandela, he stated that “It helps people become better citizens, get a better-paid job, shows the difference between good and bad. Education shows us the importance of hard work and, at the same time, helps us grow and develop. Thus, we are able to shape a better society to live in by knowing and respecting rights, laws, and regulations. Learning through educational processes helps interact with different people in order to exchange ideas, knowledge, good practices. It teaches us to live in harmony.” This explanation of education above tells why Sub-Saharan Africa is behind. There is no knowledge spillover because many are reluctant to accept the changes that come with increased knowledge. There is a lack of infrastructure to even provide education and this helps explain why education is a big problem in these regions.

Normally, in a society where education works there is a knowledge spillover and even expansion that occurs, but in this case where education is neglected, it is difficult for that cycle of education feeding into its actual purpose to educate even more to occur. Personally, I believe this is why many Sub-Saharan countries are lagging and it does not only fall on bad governance but also on the culture of the people and the society. An example is Nigeria, although there are many educated people, there is still a major population in the country that are uneducated and classified as illiterate. Now this is lack of exposure to education is occurring not  because education is not being brought to them, but because their mindset has been set to understand that there is no benefit of being education (Musau, 2018). And when this is the case, it is difficult to shift such mindsets because the people around them are their inspirations and reflection of what they think they can be (Agbor, 2012).

With that, it clearly exposes the core cause of why Sub-Saharan African Countries are way behind in technological progress. In such an environment where productivity is not supported by the government or individuals are not reluctant to make use of the natural resources, they have due to fear of no lasting effect, it will be difficult for productivity to thrive. Good governance and proper access to quality education are the main factors and if there is a positive change in those two areas, there might be a good change and the countries might be able to partake in the current technological or digital revolution.

See also


  1. ^ Paul Bairoch (1995). Economics and World History: Myths and Paradoxes. University of Chicago Press. p. 95. Archived from the original on 12 October 2017. Retrieved 18 August 2017.
  2. ^ O'Sullivan, Arthur; Sheffrin, Steven M. (2003). Economics: Principles in Action. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey 07458: Pearson Prentice Hall. p. 472. ISBN 0-13-063085-3. OCLC 50237774.CS1 maint: location (link)
  3. ^ Griffin, Emma, A short History of the British Industrial Revolution. In 1850 over 50 percent of the British lived and worked in cities. London: Palgrave (2010)
  4. ^ a b Sustainable Industrialization in Africa: Toward a New Development Agenda. Springer. 2016. doi:10.1007/978-1-137-56112-1_1b.[verification needed]
  5. ^ Pollard, Sidney: Peaceful Conquest.The Industrialisation of Europe 1760–1970, Oxford 1981.
  6. ^ Buchheim, Christoph: Industrielle Revolutionen. Langfristige Wirtschaftsentwicklung in Großbritannien, Europa und in Übersee, München 1994, S. 11-104.
  7. ^ Jones, Eric: The European Miracle: Environments, Economics and Geopolitics in the History of Europe and Asia, 3. ed. Cambridge 2003.
  8. ^ Henning, Friedrich-Wilhelm: Die Industrialisierung in Deutschland 1800 bis 1914, 9. Aufl., Paderborn/München/Wien/Zürich 1995, S. 15-279.
  9. ^ Industry & Enterprise: A International Survey Of Modernisation & Development, ISM/Google Books, revised 2nd edition, 2003. ISBN 978-0-906321-27-0. [1] Archived 11 May 2016 at the Wayback Machine
  10. ^ Lewis F. Abbott, Theories Of Industrial Modernisation & Enterprise Development: A Review, ISM/Google Books, revised 2nd edition, 2003. ISBN 978-0-906321-26-3.[2]
  11. ^ revolution, social. "social effects of industrial revolution". Archived from the original on 17 March 2012. Retrieved 1 April 2021.
  12. ^ revolution, social. "social effect of industrial revolution".
  13. ^ Lee, Robin (26 September 2016). "Industrialization and Exploitation". Medium. Archived from the original on 3 July 2020. Retrieved 30 June 2020.
  14. ^ The effect of industrialisation on the family, Talcott Parsons, the isolated nuclear family Archived 20 November 2010 at the Wayback Machine Black's Academy. Educational Database. Accessed April 2008.
  15. ^ Child, development. "development and the whole child" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 17 January 2021. Retrieved 23 September 2020.
  16. ^ United Nations Millennium Development Goals Archived 4 May 2007 at the Wayback Machine. (2008-05-20). Retrieved on 2013-07-29.
  17. ^ a b c Claire Melamed, Renate Hartwig and Ursula Grant 2011. Jobs, growth and poverty: what do we know, what don't we know, what should we know? Archived 20 May 2011 at the Wayback Machine London: Overseas Development Institute

Further reading

  • Chandler Jr., Alfred D. (1993). The Visible Hand: The Management Revolution in American Business. Belknap Press of Harvard University Press. ISBN 978-0674940529.
  • Hewitt, T., Johnson, H. and Wield, D. (Eds) (1992) industrialisation and Development, Oxford University Press: Oxford.
  • Hobsbawm, Eric (1962): The Age of Revolution. Abacus.
  • Kemp, Tom (1993) Historical Patterns of Industrialisation, Longman: London. ISBN 0-582-09547-6
  • Kiely, R (1998) industrialisation and Development: A comparative analysis, UCL Press:London.
  • Landes, David. S. (1969). The Unbound Prometheus: Technological Change and Industrial Development in Western Europe from 1750 to the Present. Cambridge, New York: Press Syndicate of the University of Cambridge. ISBN 0-521-09418-6.
  • Pomeranz, Ken (2001)The Great Divergence: China, Europe and the Making of the Modern World Economy (Princeton Economic History of the Western World) by (Princeton University Press; New Ed edition, 2001)
  • Tilly, Richard H.: Industrialization as an Historical Process, European History Online, Mainz: Institute of European History, 2010, retrieved: 29 February 2011.
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