Missing Out on Industrial Revolution
Published: December 2008
Explanations of industrialisation stress England’s nineteenth-century abrupt
departure from a common Eurasian pattern. This paper examines the preceding
de-industrialisation of Southern England and limited development of Tokugawa
Japan (the shogunate that ruled Japan from 1600–1868), which throw clearer light
on the processes involved. English industrialisation was regional, resulting from
competition within a market unified by seventeenth- and eighteenth-century
improvements in communications. The old industries of Southern England
were eliminated before the application of steam to manufacturing in the North.
Underpinning regional competition were transportation investments encouraged
by the ‘elite settlement’ of 1688, and by market ideology. The paper shows
that Japan independently followed a parallel path between 1600 and 1700. Its
elite settlement was weaker than England’s but both countries were already
constructing the ‘open access orders’ characteristic of modern economies.