The Protestant ethic the spirit of capitalism and the Industrial Revolution

The Industrial Revolution changed the world forever. From its beginnings in eighteenth-century Britain, it set capitalist economies on the path of sustained economic growth, something unknown in the pre-modern world. That meant unending technical change and repeated increases in per capita income, first in Britain and then, after 1800, in other parts of western Europe and countries of European settlement. Initially, growth was slow (up until 1800, as we have seen, most of the increased income in Britain came at the expense of longer working hours and so was not growth at all), and it came at the expense of dislocating social change, as people left the countryside to toil in urban mills. Nor were its benefits evenly spread throughout society, particularly at the outset. Yet by 1870 the average citizen of Britain (and the same is true for much

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