Friday, November 6, 2009

Industrial Revolutions - Modern History lectures

About ten days ago I wrote a post about the various university lecture series you can follow about Modern Western History. Even though each of these have their own perspectives, themes and pet-subjects, there are a number of items that can simply not be passed over. One of those and one fo the first you are to encounter is that of the Industrial Revolution.

The latest of these courses is Professor John Merriman's European Civilization, 1648-1945. In this series lecture 8 is dedicated to this subject and it is aptly called: Industrial Revolutions. Observe the plural; an elementary point Merriman makes is that there are several industrial revolutions. A revolution for each population center, a revolution for each industry and consecutive revolutions. This means not only one wave of industrialization after another, but also, a kick off by an agricultural revolution.

Berkeley's History 5 by Professor Margaret Anderson also mentions the agricultural revolution and dedicates special attention to it. Without this phenomenon food supplies could not have grown to the level that allowed for larger urban centers and the freeing up of a sizable proportion of the population for industry rather than agriculture.

A cultural implication of the industrial revolution has been mentioned also by others (History 5 by Carla Hesse and UCLA's history 1c by Lynn Hunt), but most elegantly displayed by Merriman as yet another industrial revolution: factory work. As opposed to traditional work of farmers and artisans which is independent and flexible, the large scale enterprises after industrialization had to operate like clockwork. Industrialization revolutionizes therefore time and the worker's disposition of his own time.
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