Skip to main content

Industrial Capitalism




The best way to approach the concept of industrial capitalism would seem to be through a definition of capitalism that existed prior to industrialization as well as through a debate that historians of industrialization have been having among themselves for many decades on whether and in what ways the appearance of industry on the historical stage amounted to a revolution.

According to the 1989 edition of the Oxford English Dictionary, capitalism is a "system which favours the existence of capitalists," and a capitalist is "one who has accumulated capital; one who has capital available for employment in financial or industrial enterprises." Webster's Third New International Dictionary describes capitalism as an "economic system characterized by private or corporation ownership of capital goods, by investments that are determined by private decision rather than by state control, and by prices, production, and the distribution of goods that are determined mainly by a free market."

These definitions indicate that capitalism existed before the arrival of industrial capitalism, primarily in the form of a commercial or merchant capitalism. Its foundations were in the trading links and routes that had been built up in different parts of the globe, often over thousands of years. With the proliferation of money as a means of exchange, this merchant capitalism became more and more sophisticated in its methods of handling payments for material goods that were increasingly transported over very long distances across Africa, Asia, and Europe and, after the discovery of the Americas, also across the Atlantic.


Once industrialization had emerged as a clearly discernible process, intellectuals and scholars came along to interpret its meaning and significance. Men like Claude-Henri de Saint-Simon felt that something remarkable was happening in their time in the early nineteenth century and turned their attention to what they perceived as a toiling and laboring industrial society. Subsequently, Karl Marx began to analyze the phenomenon more systematically, viewing it as a distinct stage in the long evolution of human society. To him industrial capitalism based on factory work and wage labor was preceded by feudalism—a system in which the owners of the large landed estates had established their domination over the mass of dependent peasants. According to Marx, this feudal system suffered increasingly from its inner contradictions and the conflicts it had been generating between the exploitative landlords and the exploited peasants. By the eighteenth century these contradictions had in Marx's view become so serious as to trigger a revolution from which a new socioeconomic system, industrial capitalism, was born. In it the bourgeois industrial entrepreneur had replaced the feudal lord and exploited proletarianized factory workers through wage labor. In the long run these proletarians were destined to challenge industrial capitalism and stage a further revolution that would abolish capitalist exploitation and lead to an egalitarian and democratic communist society characterized by perpetual peace and harmony.

While many of Marx's writings remained quite vague about the structures and shape of the communist utopia, he devoted most of his voluminous writings to an analysis of the "laws" and inner dynamic of industrial capitalism. Moving along the path that he had mapped out, his followers not only spoke and wrote about the evolution of industrial capitalism after Marx's death in 1883 but also looked more closely at its supposedly violent origins in the eighteenth century.

After World War II, Eric Hobsbawm became one of the most influential Marxist historians to examine this period, in his Age of Revolution, first published in 1962. In it he viewed the emergence of industrial capitalism as a convulsive phenomenon and a major divide in the history of humankind. Indeed, "by any reckoning," he wrote, "this was probably the most important event in world history, at any rate since the invention of agriculture and the cities" (p. 29).

Hobsbawm's study was in part a response to another interpretation to which he referred indirectly and which had been most powerfully presented two years earlier by the American economist Walt W. Rostow in his Stages of Economic Growth. Rostow saw the rise of industrial capitalism as an evolutionary process, perhaps best captured by the image of an airplane sitting at the end of a runway. If, according to Rostow, the socioeconomic and political conditions were right for the plane to start and accelerate down the metaphorical runway, it would reach a takeoff point and once airborne would eventually achieve a steady equilibrium in self-sustained growth and a mass consumption society.

Although Rostow's argument was essentially that of an economic historian who looked at the alleged experience of societies that had taken off into industrial affluence, its underlying assumptions were anti-Marxist and liberal-reformist. His subtitle was quite blunt about this: "A Non-Communist Manifesto." And indeed, there was also a contemporary significance to the debate on capitalist industrialization that revived after World War II. Both camps were implying, when writing in this Cold War period, that the competition of East and West was also a struggle for the hearts and minds of the still predominantly agricultural societies of the "Third World," of the millions in Asia, Latin America, and Africa who were wavering between the two systems.

Marxists argued on the one hand that industrialization could not be achieved without revolutionary upheavals of the kind that Europe had once seen; the Rostowians, on the other, held out the evolutionary solution that they believed had been experienced by the Europeans before the advent of prosperous mass consumer societies in Europe and North America.

While the argument over origins and fundamentals was going on, some scholars turned to more specific topics. There was the intriguing question of what had in fact triggered the shift from an agricultural-feudal to a capitalist-industrial society. Here the demographers asserted that it was changes in marriage patterns and birthrates that unleashed a population explosion. This in turn promoted a revolution in agricultural production in which the farming community, instead of merely growing enough food for its own subsistence, expanded the arable land and turned to more intensive agriculture that yielded a surplus for sale to a growing population in the towns and cities. Other scholars postulated a reverse chain of events where improvements in agriculture and a proliferating interest to produce for a larger market led to changes in marriage patterns and demographics. Yet another group of specialists focused on technological innovation, the decline in disease and infant mortality, or long-distance trade and Europe's expansion overseas as factors behind the socioeconomic changes that had so clearly taken place in Europe around the eighteenth century. If these controversies had subsided by the end of the twentieth century, it was perhaps also from a growing sense that a unique combination of factors had been at work and that it may never be possible to identify one as the prima causa.

The other controversy that occupied social and economic historians in the early postwar period, and in which Eric Hobsbawm was also engaged, concerned the question of whether standards of living rose or declined as industrial capitalism unfolded in the nineteenth century. The results of this debate are more clear-cut than those about the original trigger of industrialization. In the early twenty-first century it is generally agreed that the immediate impact in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries was quite disastrous for millions of Europeans who experienced the shift from agriculture to industry as an enormous upheaval, materially and psychologically. Impoverishment and starvation were widespread in those decades and contributed ultimately to the outbreak of the revolutions of 1848 in western and central Europe. However, if the standard-of-living problem is looked at over the longer term, a broadly based improvement of the situation of the mass of the population is discernible until the two world wars of the first half of the twentieth century destroyed most of these gains, and it took until the postwar decades before the upward trend in living standards was resumed.


In the 1970s, then, there emerged a group of historians who had become skeptical of certain elements of the positions that Hobsbawm and Rostow had taken in the debate on the origins of industrial capitalism. They tended to agree with the liberals that industrial capitalism did not come as a sudden rupture. The transition from agriculture to industry was, they believed, gradual and indeed passed through an intermediate phase that they termed protoindustrialization. At the same time the group disagreed with the Rostowians that, once takeoff had been achieved, industrialization and the reaching of self-sustained growth were unstoppable.

The empirical base of the protoindustrial argument was provided by the methodological refinements that demography had meanwhile created. For a long time demographers had been struggling to develop at least some broad national data on population change in Europe in the early modern period. Along came Franklin Mendels and others in the 1970s, who began to evaluate local church records and birth registers in an effort to obtain more specific information on population size in certain localities. Focusing on Flanders in what is now southern Belgium and on northern France, Mendels found concentrations of families who were landless and, according to earlier theories, should have moved to the urban centers in search of jobs in the factory system. But Mendels's data showed that these families had stayed in their villages in the countryside and had become involved in extensive protoindustrial networks engaged in spinning and weaving. The raw materials and tools—as the "protoindustrializers" also discovered—were provided by merchant capitalists in the nearby towns who, motivated by the prospect of profit, were in search of cheap labor to escape the restrictions of the craft guilds in the towns and cities. They were also linked to a system of trade that enabled them to channel the finished products into transregional markets.

In this way a so-called putting-out system was forged, by which the landless cottagers collected the raw materials from the merchant capitalist and turned them into cloth and other textiles, which they returned to the putters-out for a cash payment to cover their daily subsistence. As research into the protoindustrialization phenomenon grew, other predominantly agricultural regions with similar employment structures were discovered. The northwest of England was one of the first regions of this type, where the factory system with its textile mills unfolded but slowly. Another proto-industrial region that attracted a good deal of attention was along the Belgian border with the German Rhineland south of Aachen and to the north around Krefeld. The Eichsfeld (southeast of Göttingen) and Thuringia also fell into this pattern, with the latter concentrating on cottage-industrial woodcrafts and toy making. The proto-industrial area of Upper Silesia farther east became famous in 1848 for the weavers' uprising on which Gerhart Hauptmann based his drama Die Weber. Putting-out networks that often comprised thousands of households also emerged in northern Italy and in Sweden.

All these results of painstaking demographic research explain why these historians challenged not only the Marxists with their revolutionary perspective on the process of capitalist industrialization but also the Rostowians and their takeoff theory. For some of the regions that had once sustained flourishing putting-out networks lapsed back into a rural state, and factory systems arose elsewhere. In other words, protoindustries were always in a precarious balance, as was most strikingly demonstrated by the work of the British industrial archaeologist Robin Chaplin on Tern Hall in Shropshire, England. Going through the records of a legal dispute, Chaplin found that the estate had once housed one of the largest iron forges in Europe at the bottom of a hill on which the mansion had been built. Taking a spade, Chaplin did indeed find massive brick foundations on the banks of a lake and a creek that in the early eighteenth century had driven the forge's water-wheel. Today no traces can be seen of this development. It is covered up by grass, shrubs, and trees.

Thanks to the research by Mendels and others, it is now widely accepted that Industrialization before Industrialization, as Hans Medick, Jürgen Schlumbohm, and Peter Kriedte entitled their influential study of the subject, provides a more subtle interpretation of the genesis of industrial capitalism than Hobsbawm or Rostow. It is also agreed that protoindustries run by merchant capitalists were not simply displaced by the advent of the factory system. Rather there was a period of overlap, even if the cottage industries proved less efficient in the long run and disappeared. The reasons for this decline are not too difficult to discern. It was forever laborious, especially in the winter, to get the raw materials to the cottages and to return the finished products to the town. The decentralization of the system also hampered supervision and control. Here the factory that united all workers under one roof offered the entrepreneur considerable advantages. The surviving factory codes show how discipline was imposed and workers were held to a strict routine with fixed work hours, breaks, and penalties for "loafing," tardiness, and other infractions of the codes. Protoindustrial research also stimulated work on daily life within the cottages, on gender relations and child rearing within the families. This in turn influenced work that had begun earlier relating to the role of women in the emergent factory system, changing work patterns, and the structures of the industrial working-class family.


Once industrial capitalism had firmly established itself, it experienced a rapid expansion. The principle of competition in the marketplace meant that many who had owned a small workshop went under or barely survived on the margins of the new factory system, while others were more successful, founding further factories, developing new product lines, and coming into wealth. Growth also confronted the successful enterprises with fresh problems. It became more and more difficult for the owner(s) to maintain an oversight over all parts of the operation from the acquisition of raw materials and the processes of manufacturing to sales and marketing and the keeping of the accounts. With the expansion of the workforce came the need for supervisors on the shop floor and for experts and managers securing production and a steady flow of orders, for shrewd accountants and circumspect dispatchers.

Expansion also required additional capital. Initially, many entrepreneurs relied on members of their family to provide capital. But with the growth of the banking system financial institutions also became involved in giving loans on a short-term and increasingly on a more long-term basis. Finally, there was the development of the joint-stock company designed to attract investors interested in buying shares that carried higher returns than could be achieved through a savings account. In tandem with financial institutions and manufacturing, industry workers also became more organized. In 1846 the ironworks of Friedrich Krupp in the industrial Ruhr region had some 140 workers; by 1913 there were 77,500. With the rallying of employers and workers came bureaucratization, as Jürgen Kocka has demonstrated in his study of the electrical engineering firm Siemens. Werner Siemens had been in charge of a small workshop producing railroad signals and other electrical equipment, where he himself worked as an inventor and innovator. By 1912 the firm had 44,400 blue-collar workers and some 12,500 engineers and other white-collar employees, and once quite personal relationships had inevitably become more distant and anonymous. Research and development had vastly expanded. The polytechnical schools and science departments of universities had been drawn into the training of specialists.

By the late nineteenth century technological innovation and the applied sciences had tangibly changed industrial capitalism. While the older branches of manufacturing (textiles, iron and steel making, coal mining) continued, the new and much more dynamic branches of electrical engineering, chemicals, and machine building had initiated a second phase in the industrialization process. These branches created much of the prosperity that Europe witnessed before 1914 and that was disrupted by two world wars before it resumed after 1945, until it was, from the 1980s, challenged by another shift into computers and the Internet.

However, it would be mistaken to see technology as the sole or even as the main driving force behind the transformations that industrial capitalism underwent from the late nineteenth century. Rather, technological change is inseparable from changes in the organization of capitalism. Whether technology is developed indigenously or imported from abroad, it is never adopted and adapted locally as such. What comes with it are ideas and processes of work that are compatible with the new machinery. During most of the nineteenth century, manufacturing practices tended to evolve from preexisting regional traditions of workshop organization or were adapted from those developed in Britain, "the first industrial nation" (as Peter Mathias called it, in his book of that title) and political hegemon of the age. Continental European businessmen traveled across the Channel to inspect the factories of the English Midlands and north, just as the American Samuel Slater did before he rebuilt the textile machinery he had seen there at his mill in Pawtucket, Rhode Island. Other entrepreneurs in the German Rhineland and elsewhere hired British engineers to help them with the organization of their shop floors.

The rise of electrical engineering, machine building, and chemicals by the late nineteenth century triggered further shifts in production methods and work organization. The need was now for highly skilled workers who were trained to deal with more complex processes of assembling automotive engines or testing dyestuffs and who were able to work with engineers and university-trained chemists. The working conditions became less disciplinarian and patriarchal and more rational-bureaucratic. Loyalty and expertise became important values that gave employees a voice within the enterprise. While heavy industry remained hostile to the idea of worker representation, the "new industries" began to negotiate with union representatives. It seemed better to secure cooperation in the interest of uninterrupted production than to have a disgruntled workforce that staged a sudden strike. Conversely, workers' associations, many of which could build on the experience of the guilds, were also interested in the company's prosperity offering opportunities to negotiate higher wages and job security. In short, a movement toward a more flexible handling of labor relations on the part of some employers coincided with a politically more conservative unionization that preferred gradual reform and an improvement of material conditions to the push of more radical Marxist politicians and intellectuals who wanted to prepare the overthrow of the existing capitalist system.


By the turn of the century, interest in Britain as the role model of industrial capitalism began to give way to an interest in the United States, which in the meantime had changed from a country of rural settlers, trappers, and "Red Indians" to one in which a growing number of people lived in cities and were engaged in manufacturing. Instead of journeying to England, continental European entrepreneurs could now be seen to board one of the fast luxury liners to take them across the Atlantic so as to visit the centers of American manufacturing in Pennsylvania, New York, Ohio, and Michigan.

Overall, the connections that were forged must be seen as part of a slow globalization process that had been going on for several centuries and that the European "scramble for colonies" in the late nineteenth century had accelerated, in the course of which Africa and parts of Asia were carved up between the great powers. This is where many of the raw materials for European industry came from, extracted under exploitative and often brutal conditions and under very unfavorable terms of trade. But the most intensive exchange in semifinished and finished goods took place among the industrialized nations of Europe, many of whom were each other's best customers, and increasingly also across the Atlantic, where a new industrial power was emerging in the pre-1914 decades.

European interest in the United States was furthermore stimulated by the rise there of the scientific management movement and the fame of one of its apostles, Frederick Taylor. He had been in the forefront of developing time-and-motion studies and of thinking more systematically about factory rationalization. A tireless propagandist of his ideas, he was convinced that their adoption by industry would benefit both employers and workers. Increased productivity, he argued, brought higher profits as well as wages. Another American, Henry Ford, preached rationalization as a means of producing a benefit in addition to higher productivity, profits, and wages. Next to the entrepreneur and worker to whom Taylorism was appealing, he introduced a third beneficiary of Fordism: the consumer. By passing some of the gains from rationalized production on to the buyer of goods in the form of lower prices, Ford hitched mass production to the provision of cheap consumer durables for a mass market. Having inspected Ford's assembly lines in Michigan, it is typical that the electrical engineering firm of Robert Bosch in Stuttgart and the French carmaker Renault should experiment with Taylorist and Fordist methods. This interest in American ideas of industrial production and marketing continued and deepened in the 1920s, when major American corporations came to Europe as investors or to establish their own production facilities, which in turn put pressure on European entrepreneurs to rationalize.

However, especially during the interwar years, a number of institutional and mental obstacles prevented a more far-reaching "Americanization" of European industrial capitalism. To begin with, the ravages of World War I left too many ordinary people too close to the existential minimum to turn them into consumers who could afford a mass-produced automobile or household appliance. Even if cheaper goods became available, the resources of the average family were too limited to help create a mass production and mass consumption society. No less importantly, European industrial capitalism had from the late nineteenth century onward developed a structural peculiarity that delayed the advent of an American-style mass consumer society until after World War II: cartelization.


Cartels are horizontal agreements between independent firms within one branch of industry designed to foster cooperation instead of competition in key areas such as output and pricing policies. Members of a cartel divide the market among themselves by negotiating, for example, production quotas for each company and/or by fixing prices. Many cartels also founded syndicates—organizations that took complete care of the sale of the cartel's products. The origins of this system went back to the 1870s and 1880s, the years of what was then known as the "Great Depression," when European industry tried to protect itself against losses by stabilizing prices. It was also the period when cartels attempted to shield themselves against foreign competition by urging their governments to introduce higher protective tariffs.

When in the 1890s the European national economies came out of the "Great Depression" (which was in effect more a period of retarded growth) and enjoyed another boom that lasted more or less continuously until World War I, protective tariffs were reduced. But in many countries on the Continent, major branches of industry had become so used to the comforts of cartels that they continued to fix production quotas and prices among themselves. Full market competition was not restored. In Germany the system was even legalized by a decision of the Reich Court of 1897, which declared cartels to be binding agreements between individual firms. Leaving a cartel in order to compete independently and not to be bound by quotas and fixed prices exposed a company to lawsuits for breach of contract. Conversely, enterprises that for some reason were not admitted to a cartel found themselves discriminated against. The larger consequences of cartelization are not too difficult to pinpoint: the market was virtually monopolized by cartels. Prices tended to be fixed at a level that secured the survival of the commercially weakest and least efficient member. The more profitable companies could use their resources to rationalize without the threat of a competitor and hence without the pressure of passing productivity gains on to the consumers via lower prices.

World War I, with its increasing need to coordinate production and prices for the sake of national mobilization for total war, perpetuated the European cartel system, and the difficult years after 1918 merely reinforced the incentive for interfirm cooperation. After a brief hiatus during the more prosperous mid-1920s, when American business appeared on the scene, the Great Slump of 1929 induced another period of protection against competition at home and from foreign corporations. Not surprisingly, the authoritarian political systems that emerged in the 1930s favored cartels. When Hitler, for example, placed his arms orders, it was advantageous to have to deal with a cartel rather than a welter of manufacturers. Ultimately, Germany became totally cartelized. It was an industrial capitalism that was still based on the principle of private ownership of the means of production, but the marketplace was for all practical purposes abolished and the consumer had no voice. After 1939, the Nazis tried to impose this system on the national economies of the neighboring countries they had conquered. It was envisaged that European industry would become a Grossraumkartell—a closed space, an autarkic system geared to German interests and completely cartelized.


Given the negative effects that European cartelization had both economically and politically, the United States, as the unquestioned hegemon of the Western world after 1945, insisted on a strict ban on cartels and their replacement by a model that had evolved in the United States since the late nineteenth century. It began in 1890, when Congress ratified the so-called Sherman Act, which prohibited the formation of cartels and a monopolization of the marketplace. Only price competition and production without quotas were held to be in the interest of the consumer. As a result, American industrial capitalism moved in the direction of oligopolies, of big individual corporations that, under the pain of severe penalties, were not allowed to cooperate, only to compete. The system also promoted the survival of small- and mediumsized firms that were efficient enough to occupy the many niches of specialized production that technological and economic change continued to open up next to the oligopolies.

With the negative experiences of European market restrictions in the first half of the twentieth century before their eyes, the Americans began to pressure all European nations to break with their cartel tradition and to introduce anticartel and anti-monopoly legislation. This pressure was applied most directly and strongly to occupied West Germany, with the explicit calculation that if the potentially largest economy in the postwar reconstruction effort developed a competitive market economy, it would spill over into the rest of Western Europe, where the Americans did not have the lever of an occupying power.

There was much initial resistance against the introduction of anticartel legislation everywhere, as many industrial associations mobilized to block it or water it down. But by the late 1950s the movement against restrictive practices had gained the upper hand throughout the emerging European economic community. The spreading of the principle of market competition paved the way for the breakthrough of Fordism in its dual meaning—rationalized mass production of civilian goods from which the consumer would benefit, as rising living standards put consumer durables into the range of the average family budget.

The destruction of the cartel system did not mean, though, that industrial capitalism in Western Europe after World War II was totally unrestrained and unregulated. While the type of socialist planning that the Soviet Union imposed on the East European satellites under Stalinism was anathema in the West, there was the realization that the complexities of industrial capitalism required some kind of management of the present and a projection of growth and performance into the future. It was a principle that any shrewd director would apply to his own company as a matter of course, and it was also one that had become more widely accepted in light of the lessons learned from the collapse of the international economy in 1929. Industrial capitalism could not do without some kind of constitutional framework, set of rules, and management of the future. By the 1960s, politicians, employers, trade unionists, and academic economists worked hard to generate as precise an estimate as possible of the present state of the economy and of its future trajectory. Keynesian demand management blended with other ideas about economic steering, with the aim of securing full employment, low inflation rates, expanded international trade, and monetary stability.


A key concern in the relationship between government, employers, and organized workers—also known as tripartism—was the maintenance and cautious expansion of the welfare state. This system of social security had first emerged in Germany in the 1880s. Subsequently Britain and other European nations also installed increasingly universal benefits such as health insurance, pension schemes, and insurance against unemployment and work-related accidents. These benefits were originally conceived as an instrument of social appeasement to keep a restive working class away from radical leftist movements and in particular from the orthodox Marxists who were agitating for the overthrow of the bourgeois-capitalist order. After World War I there was a growing sense that social and economic security was a citizen's right—a sense that was reinforced by the need to support large numbers of disabled veterans, war widows, and orphans, many of whom had been thrown into destitution. After the Great Slump of 1929 and another devastating world war, what had once started as a limited coverage for selected groups of workers and white-collar employees saw a further expansion and consolidation to provide a safety net for all. Not surprisingly, industry was never particularly happy with the rise of the welfare state, to whose funding it was obliged by law to contribute. In the long run, however, many of its representatives came to accept that it was in their interest and that of the stability and viability of the parliamentary democratic systems that comprised the political framework for industrial capitalism's continued prosperity, which made it imperative to maintain the safety net despite mounting costs.

However, throughout the postwar decades voices never subsided that warned of an overburdening of the national economy with welfare expenditures and entitlements. The countermovement began in the United States, where it was both the overburdening and the growth of public bureaucracies administering the welfare state that drew increasing criticism. As the advocates of a scaling back of entitlements and of more generally reducing the public sector through privatization gained ground under the administration of Ronald Reagan, their arguments were also taken up in Europe, first in Britain, where Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher turned them into a program for political action. It proved to be a contentious and agonizing process, and even more so when the objective and ideological pressures to contain the further growth of the welfare state reached the countries of the European continent. The trade unions were in the forefront of the resistance, but in the meantime they had lost many of their members and hence much of their early post-war clout. In an ironic way this decline was partly due to the success of Fordism, which had turned once class-conscious and combative workers, demanding social security and a better distribution of the national wealth, into price-conscious consumers looking for individual improvement and a reduction of their taxes.

At the end of the twentieth century, industrial capitalism in Europe faced major sociological and attitudinal shifts of this kind, which were reinforced by a major technological change with its own pressures of decentralization and individualization. No doubt it was no longer the same as during its origins over two hundred years ago. To be sure, manufacturing in large factories continues, but much of it has moved outside Europe. It is a curious reversal from the nineteenth century. At that time the rural protoindustrial putting-out system came to be challenged by the urban factory, and both continued side by side. At the beginning of the twenty-first century it appears as if industrial capitalism exists in parallel to a growing pattern in which the managers sit in the metropolitan centers of Europe and North America to initiate and supervise the outsourcing of manufacturing to non-European countries around the globe. Like the merchant capitalists of the eighteenth century, they are linked to a global network of sales agencies, wholesalers, and retailers who distribute the mass-produced goods to a receptive mass consumer, aided by a proliferating tertiary sector whose specialists are keen to offer their services, be it in leisure and entertainment, financial advice and banking, or the food business.

Some have called this regime a postindustrial capitalism. But it is unlikely that the production of industrial goods will cease, and it therefore seems premature to proclaim the end of a system that proved innovative and dynamic since the emergence of the first factories in Britain and other parts of continental Europe. There will be regional shifts, as there have been in the past.

See alsoAmericanization; Capitalism; Labor Movements.


Chandler, Alfred D., Jr. Scale and Scope: The Dynamics of Industrial Capitalism. Cambridge, U.K., 1990.

Hobsbawm, Eric J. The Age of Revolution, 1789–1848. New York, 1962.

——. The Age of Empire, 1875–1914. London, 1987.

Kriedte, Peter, Hans Medick, and Jürgen Schlumbolm. Industrialization before Industrialization. Translated by Beate Schempp. Cambridge, U.K., 1981.

Milward, Alan S. The Reconstruction of Western Europe, 1945–1951. London, 1984.

Nolan, Mary. Visions of Modernity. New York, 1994.

Rifkin, Jeremy. The European Dream. New York, 2004.

Rostow, Walt W. The Stages of Economic Growth: A Non-Communist Manifesto. Cambridge, U.K., 1960.

Shonfield, Andrew. Modern Capitalism. London, 1965.

Zunz, Oliver, Leonard Schoppa, and Nobuhiro Hiwatari, eds. Social Contracts under Stress. New York, 2002.

Volker R. Berghahn

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Industrial Capitalism." Encyclopedia of Modern Europe: Europe Since 1914: Encyclopedia of the Age of War and Reconstruction. . 13 Oct. 2018 <>.

"Industrial Capitalism." Encyclopedia of Modern Europe: Europe Since 1914: Encyclopedia of the Age of War and Reconstruction. . (October 13, 2018).

"Industrial Capitalism." Encyclopedia of Modern Europe: Europe Since 1914: Encyclopedia of the Age of War and Reconstruction. . Retrieved October 13, 2018 from

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

The Chicago Manual of Style

American Psychological Association

  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.