This volume brings together eleven essays and articles which the author has published on the history of the industrial revolution, together with six hitherto unpublished papers. Method is the central consideration, and Dr. Hartwell discusses the ways in which historians have analysed the industrial revolution, demonstrates inconsistency and bias in their interpretations, and suggests an appropriate framework of economic theory for future studies. He maintains that the industrial revolution is ‘the great discontinuity’ of modern history and should displace such vague claimants as ‘the rise of modern capitalism.’ and also that it is only possible to understand the industrial revolution by analysing it as a historical example of economic growth. The text falls into three sections which reflect the author’s interest. The first, ‘Methodology and Background,’ considers economic growth before the industrial revolution, explains why historians differ in their interpretations of English industrialization, and argues the case for ‘the great discontinuity.’ The second, ‘Causes and Process,’ considers the causes of the industrial revolution and the process of growth during the industrial revolution, and gives particular attention to variables of growth which the historians have ignored, education and law. The third, ‘Social and Economic Consequences,’ is concerned with the ‘standard-of-living controversy,’ with the effects of the industrial revolution on real wages, and on the working and living conditions of the working classes.
R. M. Hartwell is Professorial Fellow of Nuffield College, and Reader in Recent Social and Economic History at the University of Oxford.