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Meaning of Industrialisation

Industrialisation is the process in which a society or country transforms itself from a primarily agricultural society into one based on the manufacturing of goods and services. Individual manual labour is often replaced by mechanised mass production and craftsmen are replaced by assembly lines.

The characteristics of industrialisation include the use of technological innovation as well as the effective use of division of labour and economic growth. Industrialisation is most commonly associated with the European Industrial Revolution of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.

Even before factories began to appear in England and Europe, there was large scale industrial production for an international market. This was not based on factories. Many historians refer to this phase of industrialisation as proto-industrialisation.

Proto-industrialisation was marked by the increasing involvement of agrarian families in market-
oriented craft production, mainly through the sub-contraction organised by merchant capitalists. It was an effective method of production which was controlled by merchants and had links to developing European consumerism. This took place during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries in Europe.

In this system, a close relationship developed between the town and the countryside. The merchants were based in towns but the work was done mostly in the countryside. The merchant would buy wool from a wool stapler, and carry to the spinner, the yarn was taken to weavers, fullers and then to dyer. The finishing was done in London before the export; the merchant sold the cloth in the international market. London came to be known as a finishing centre.

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