Front Page Titles (by Subject) Was There a British Industrial Revolution? - Literature of Liberty, Spring 1982, vol. 5, No. 1
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Was There a “British Industrial Revolution”? - Leonard P. Liggio, Literature of Liberty, Spring 1982, vol. 5, No. 1 
Literature of Liberty: A Review of Contemporary Liberal Thought was published first by the Cato Institute (1978-1979) and later by the Institute for Humane Studies (1980-1982) under the editorial direction of Leonard P. Liggio.
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Was There a “British Industrial Revolution”?
“The Myth of a British Industrial Revolution.” History (The Journal of the Historical Association) 66 (June 1981): 181–198.
Careful attention to historical evidence reveals semantic and definitional sloppiness in the notion of a “British Industrial Revolution.” There is little support for the claim that Britain (or England) underwent a genuine ‘industrial revolution’ in the 1760–1840 period.
The myth of Britain's ‘industrial revolution’ leads to two other points. First, the British experience in economic development over the 1760–1840 period “is so untypical of similar processes experienced elsewhere that it provides a poor guide for the present less developed countries” going through ‘industrialization.’ Secondly, “the accounts of ‘industrial revolution’—whatever that phrase may mean—are recklessly dismissive of the key role of human skill, especially for the English-British case. Instead of having experienced an ‘industrial revolution,’ England experienced an urban evolution, as part of an age-old process of a shift of population to the towns...It is a mistake to take the idea of ‘revolution’ over from political to economic and social history, in order to describe changes which are best thought of as cultural.” This misuse of words is inaccurate and obscures the fact “that overall change is always slow to take effect, due to its close link with changes in the personal skills, activities and attitudes of populations...” Attempts to date a ‘before’ or ‘after’ moment in regard to a sudden transition come up empty.
In sum, the British Industrial Revolution was not ‘British’, not ‘industrial’ (except in an ambiguous sense), and not a sudden ‘revolution.’ Fores unpacks four confused senses of ‘industry’ which writers on the ‘industrial revolution’ fail to distinguish:
Since Arnold Toynbee coined the phrase ‘Industrial Revolution’ in his 1880–1881 printed lectures, there has been no convincing evidence of any revolutionary discontinuity in any legitimate economic sense of ‘industry.’ Interestingly, this semantic confusion may be attributed to the fact that the factory sense of ‘industry’ has been remote from the dominant group of scholars who have perpetuated these myths. In consequence, writers on ‘industrial’ topics “contrive invariably to stress the soullessness of arrangements in a modern ‘mechanistic’ world...; a rural past is taken to have been more sympathetic than an urban present.” A rigorous appeal to evidence makes one skeptical of all such simplifications.