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In what ways and why was Britain’s industrialization experience unusual?

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PhD Student
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modern history
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LSE

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  1. Introduction
  2. Review
  3. Conclusion

The British Industrial Revolution is a highly debated historical event. The discussion is vigorous, especially when it comes to the origins of the Industrial Revolution. Perhaps the most common questions in this respect are: ?Why was England First??, ?What was so special about Britain so that it outlined the process of the Industrial Revolution??, ?Was Britain's industrialisation experience unusual compare to Continental Europe?? These sorts of questions are also at the centre of this paper. In particular, the aim of this paper is to elaborate on the following question: In what ways and why was Britain's industrialisation experience unusual?

The very short answer to the question is that it is generally believed that Great Britain was the first country where the so-called Industrial Revolution emerged. However, as it will be illustrated below, such quick answer is not satisfactory. This paper is organized into 4 sections. The first section summarises two major approaches which look at the origins of the British Industrial Revolution from the short-term as well as longer-term points of view. The second section discusses what was so unusual about Britain's industrialization, if anything at all. The third section of this paper supplies some additional thoughts suggesting that the differences between the two major approaches are perhaps not so significant as it may appear at first sight. The final section lays out a conclusion.

[...] Conclusion This paper attempted to discuss the ?unusualness? of Britain's industrialisation in two ways. Firstly, it considered the classical and revisionist views, which consider the British Industrial Revolution from the longer-term and the short-term perspective respectively. Secondly, the major arguments of each counter party were highlighted referring back to Crafts and Rostow, each representing one side in the debate. Finally, it has been suggested that the differences between the two streams of thought are perhaps less significant that might appear at first sight. [...]


[...] In what ways and why was Britain's industrialization experience unusual? The British Industrial Revolution is a highly debated historical event. The discussion is vigorous, especially when it comes to the origins of the Industrial Revolution. Perhaps the most common questions in this respect are: ?Why was England First??, ?What was so special about Britain so that it outlined the process of the Industrial Revolution??, ?Was Britain's industrialization experience unusual in comparison to Continental Europe?? These sorts of questions are also at the centre of this paper. [...]

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