The industrial revolution, a nearly century long progression, brought forth unprecedented and unheard of technological, sociological and economical changes throughout Europe and the civilized world. It's feasible to say that laissez faire economic thinking is the forefather and beginning of the industrial revolution. Laissez faire economics embraced free trade, advocated private enterprise and was a direct contradiction to the centuries of aristocratic domination of trade. It opened up a whole new world, the birth of import/export trade was seen and the middle class man now becomes the dominant force in economics. There are other countless factors which lead to the birth of the industrial revolution including an explosive population increase, dependent colonies in resource rich lands, an ever increasing market for the production of manufactured goods, and the shift from an agricultural dominated economy to a more industrial based society.
The industrial revolution took place throughout Europe in very different times and in very different ways.
Many great thinkers contributed to the industrial revolution, Adam Smith, though alive for only the very beginning of the period, was a huge contributor to its concepts and ideals. There were many critics of the revolution as well. Karl Marx is perhaps one of the most well known and influential critics of the industrial revolution and its effects on the human lives and the family life. He is also the pioneer and essentially the creator of the modern communist thoughts. Some people had different thoughts about society as well as the economy of the industrial revolution. Robert Owen believed that the industrial revolution would induce a cultural revolution as well. His belief was that if you treated your employees well, compensated them for their work fairly, and educated them that you would in turn see a much happier, better adjusted and productive working force.