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Reconstructing the Industrial Revolution: analyses, perceptions and conceptions of Britain’s precocious transition to Europe’s first industrial society

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  • Giorgio Riello
  • Patrick O'Brien
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    Abstract

    The Industrial Revolution continues to be analysed by economic historians deploying the conceptual vocabularies of modern social science, particularly economics. Their approach which gives priority to the elaboration of causes and processes of evolution is far too often and superficially contrasted with post-modern forms of social and cultural history with their aspirations to recover the meanings of the Revolution for those who lived through its turmoil and for ‘witnesses’ from the mainland who visited the offshore economy between 1815-48. Our purpose is to demonstrate how three distinct reconstructions of the Revolution are only apparently in conflict and above all that a contextualised analysis of observations of travellers from the mainland and the United States provides several clear insights into Britain’s famous economic transformation.

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    File URL: http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/22337/
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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by London School of Economics and Political Science, Department of Economic History in its series Economic History Working Papers with number 22337.

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    Length: 57 pages
    Date of creation: May 2004
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:ehl:wpaper:22337

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    Postal: LSE, Dept. of Economic History Houghton Street London, WC2A 2AE, U.K.
    Phone: +44 (0) 20 7955 7084
    Web page: http://www.lse.ac.uk/economicHistory/
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    1. Douglas, Ian & Hodgson, Rob & Lawson, Nigel, 2002. "Industry, environment and health through 200 years in Manchester," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 41(2), pages 235-255, May.
    2. de Vries, Jan, 1994. "The Industrial Revolution and the Industrious Revolution," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 54(02), pages 249-270, June.
    3. Daunton, M. J., 1995. "Progress and Poverty: An Economic and Social History of Britain 1700-1850," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198222811.
    4. Clark, Gregory & Werf, Ysbrand Van Der, 1998. "Work in Progress? The Industrious Revolution," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 58(03), pages 830-843, September.
    5. N. F. R. Crafts & C. K. Harley, 1992. "Output growth and the British industrial revolution: a restatement of the Crafts-Harley view," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 45(4), pages 703-730, November.
    6. Gray,Robert, 1996. "The Factory Question and Industrial England, 1830–1860," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521496599, October.
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