The Industrial Revolution began in Great Britain in the late eighteenth century and spread throughout Europe and North America during the following century. During this time, important socioeconomic transformations took place that made the changes produced in this period called revolution.
The Industrial Revolution supposed a radical change in society and in the economy of the time in which it developed and in all the subsequent evolution of history; and all this thanks to, or because of, mechanization and its application in the manufacture of goods, agriculture and transport. The Industrial Revolution marks the beginning of a new economic system, capitalism, the economic system by which the world is currently governed, and supposed a transformation in the organization of society, social classes, with the appearance of a new group social, the proletariat.
The Industrial Revolution produced the most important change since the Neolithic Revolution, in which man began to cultivate the land, transforming the production of goods. It represented the transition from an agrarian economy to an economy led by industry, in which the production of goods was carried out in a mechanized way. This in turn, caused an increase in commercial activity, with further commercial expansion favoured by improvements in transport.
The new industry was based on the mechanization of production and the application of technical innovations. The most striking was the invention of the steam engine, but many other technical advances were essential, along with the use of new energy sources. Mechanization was also applied to agriculture, which produced a change in agricultural work, increasing its production. Another great novelty was that the production process took place in factories, specific buildings destined for the manufacture of goods, which did not exist until then, which is called the industrial system.
The Industrial Revolution brought about a change in society. Capitalism established the division between capital and labour, which marked the new class society. Capital was owned by the bourgeoisie, which owns factories, financial institutions and commercial companies. On the other side was the proletariat, the workers who worked in the factories, mines or means of transportation in exchange for wages.
Consequently, the Industrial Revolution lays the foundations of our current productive system and, largely, of social and economic organization, hence its great relevance and historical importance.