Roger Hayter

in Geography

ISBN: 9780199874002
Published online February 2013 | | DOI:

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Industrialization broadly refers to the transformation of agrarian-rural societies to industrial-urban societies that are dominated by manufacturing and services. The beginning of this transformation, often referred to as the Industrial Revolution, is conventionally traced to the late 18th century in England. Industry is also more narrowly equated with manufacturing, and industrialization is specifically associated with the growth of manufacturing within the so-called “factory system” that began to proliferate at this time. The new factories featured mechanical power and the employment of specialized, waged labor to operate machines to supply large volumes of standardized goods to markets mediated by the price mechanism. In its broader sense, industrialization is intimately connected with economic growth based on deepening divisions of labor and economic interdependencies across economic sectors and among and within nations. Globally, industrialization and the associated deepening division of labor has been dominated and led by capitalist or market economies, and the centrally planned economies that developed in the mid-20th century in Europe and China have themselves accepted market forces as the principal means of organizing the production and exchange of goods and services. Market-led industrialization is remarkably dynamic, generating vast wealth and massive increases in human populations while also experiencing structural crises and formidable problems of inequality, poverty, social cohesion, and environmental degradation. Indeed, on a global scale, industrialized and rich (powerful) nations became synonymous with each other (as did poor and nonindustrial nations). This connection between industrialization, as broadly conceived, and economic growth is modified but not disrupted by the idea of postindustrial societies that are dominated by service sector jobs. Thus these jobs are themselves highly specialized, and many are linked to goods-producing activities in increasingly globalized value chains. Meanwhile, in the late 20th and early 21st centuries the rapid economic growth of newly industrializing economies (NIEs), especially in Asia, and the transitional economies of central Europe have been led by the creation of internationally competitive manufacturing sectors. Since the late 18th century industrialization has exerted massive impacts on society and economy that are now often discussed in the context of globalization. Moreover, the challenges of industrial transformation are incessant. Leading countries and regions constantly search for new forms of growth, laggards seek to transform agrarian-rural societies to an urban-industrial base and to “catch up” with the leaders, the generation of wealth needs to address issues of its distribution, and the imperatives of growth and efficiency cannot be divorced from social and environmental concerns. Over time and space these challenges are connected and different.

Article.  16744 words. 

Subjects: Earth Sciences and Geography ; Human Geography

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