Age of Industrialisation: Proto Industrialisation
These notes are based on the chapter Age of industrialisation from class 10 social sciences history NCERT book and CBSE syllabus.
Many of you may be under the impression that industrialization means large scale production with huge machines in big factories.
But industrialization had been there even before the arrival of huge machines and before the opening of big factories.
The period of industrialization before the first factories came up in Europe is termed as proto-industrialization. This period was marked by merchants from towns getting products made in villages.
Reasons for focus of merchants on villages
There were powerful trade and craft guilds in urban areas. These associations controlled competition and prices and prevented entry of a new player in the market. Because of them, it was difficult for new merchants to set business in towns.
This was the period when the land of commons was getting barricaded. So, marginal farmers were getting devoid of resources (fodder, firewood, open fields, etc.) which were earlier available to them because of the commons. Farmers were looking for newer means of livelihood. The offer from merchants came as a boon for the farmers.
This system gave many benefits to the workers. They did not have to leave their native place to unknown territory of urban environment. While producing the required goods, they could focus on farm activities and family obligations. This gave them a good degree of work-life balance.
Features of proto-industrialization in Britain
The merchants supplied money to the peasants in the countryside. They motivated farmers to produce products for an international market.
The proto-industrial system was a network of commercial exchanges. It was controlled by merchants. Goods were produced by peasants who worked within their family farms and not in factories. The finished product passed through several stages and reached the markets of London. From London, the products were supplied to the international market.
The Coming Up Of Factory
The earliest factories in England came up in the 1730s. By late 18th century, there were numerous factories dotting the landscape of England. Initially, industrialization happened in cotton textiles sector. This was evident in the fact that import of raw cotton grew from 2.5 million Pounds in 1760 to 22 million Pounds by 1787.
Benefits of factories
The factories increased efficiency of workers. Because of new machines a worker could produce better products in much bigger quantities. Cotton textiles were the main area in which industrialization happened. Managing and supervising the labour was much easier in factories than it was in the countryside.
Increased efficiency of workers resulted in greater production at lower cost. Thus, many products could be mass produced which was not possible under the system of proto-industrialisation. Thus, production in factories gave a boost to the economy.