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The Origin Of Mass Production Essay

1472 words - 6 pages

Mass production has been an indispensable science to mankind since its inception in industries around the world. Cars, computers, television sets, light bulbs and other common products including the important food items to feed the global population, that we take for granted are made with such methods. Without these methodologies, phenomenal levels of population and economic growths to-date would be otherwise impossible. Hence it has had a truly profound impact on civilization - warranting a closer look into its emergence.

By definition mass production is the process of increasing manufacturing capacity through innovative methods and new technology that can save time and resources beyond ...view middle of the document...

Several social, economic and political factors were vital to this movement in the beginning. Britain’s mighty empire spanned from the Americas to India, and saw a tremendous amount of trade with its colonies. However domestically Britain had a closed agriculture-based system, where restrictive commercial policies such as the Corn Laws meant the government held an iron fist on the national industry, agriculture. Many European states such as Prussia and Austria were often embroiled in conflicts. The only other great nation in the region, France, was in a disheveled state since its government, newly formed after the French Revolution and the dramatic rise and defeat of Napoleon, was weak in being controlled by other West European countries (More 22).

“Innovation and successful industrialization…provide opportunities for expansion and encourage a less restrictive commercial policy (Deane 219)”. Nevertheless, induced innovation, a key instigator of economic progress, was not present in Britain (Phillips 103). Only natural disasters such as the corn, cotton and potato famines of 1840s, the most dramatic in British history as of yet, propagated the repeal of the protective Corn Laws in 1846 – this move towards free trade opened new markets around the world to Britain; English farmers, faced with the prospect of diminishing farmland and growing competition, were forced to invest their profits in modernizing farming techniques as opposed to merely sustaining their daily needs (Deane 215). Their increasing dependency on chemical fertilizers, tractors and draining machines, all products of the manufacturing industry, raised yield dramatically and ironically supplanted the decline of the agriculture industry.

As the manufacturing sector came to the forefront in Britain in the middle of the nineteenth century, it was accompanied by rapid demographic expansion. From 1842 to 1850 the population rose from about 18 ½ million to almost 21 million, so the British government started feeding its people with grain imported from farms in communist Russia and on the open prairies of North America; this globe-spanning feat was made possible with the advent of railroads and paddleboats (Deane 214 – 215). These mechanized innovations in transportation are examples of a crucial concept behind mass production –the assistance or replacement of human labor with machines, known as automation.

Traditionally, trades were carried out in Europe by means of manual labor. Simpler crafts such as textiles were usually done at home; those that were more advanced such as watchmaking were based in small workshops. However, the rising demand that came with an ever-growing population around the world made such obsolete. In the transportation sector animal power and the sail became inadequate. Locomotives, paddleboats and industrial machines switched to the steam engine, a novel power source that was developed with the help of Enlightenment science.

The efforts of British...

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