Both words denote the transition in methods of production which has been responsible for the vastly increased wealth-creating capacity of modern societies compared with traditional systems. It should be noted that, although industrialization is generally thought of as something affecting the manufacturing of goods, it is reasonable and indeed necessary to apply the term industrial to modern methods of raising productivity in agriculture and other industrial sectors, and in administrative contexts. It is important to add that industrialism is not the same thing as capitalism, for although capitalism was the first and principal agent of industrialization, it is not the only one. Capitalism pre-dated industrialization and arguably varies more in fundamental form over time and from society to society.
There has been a reasonable degree of agreement about typical features of industrialism but less about which ones are essential. Typical characteristics, all of which are discussed elsewhere in this dictionary, include a division of labour; cultural rationalization; a factory system and mechanization; the universal application of scientific methods to problem-solving; time discipline and deferred gratification; bureaucracy and administration by rules; and a socially and geographically mobile labour-force.
However, any such list of features is bound to raise the question whether a particular item is the result of industrialism as such, or should be attributed either to the coexistence of capitalism or the fact that capitalist societies were the first to industrialize. Much the same might be said of several other features of modernity which are variously attributed to capitalism or industrialization, including the indefinite expansion of markets, the growth of the money economy and the calculating out-look behind scientific rationalism, and the industrial spirit itself. See also industrial sector; industrial society.