Validation of Rastow's Take-Off Hypothesis for British Industrialization

Essay by thesinologistJunior High, 9th grade April 2005

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Over the centuries since the famous Industrial Revolution, numerous histories have devoted their lives to an explanation of its development. Out of these explanations and theories, Walt Whitman Rostow's "Take-off" theory is one of the best known. This theory describes five stages related to industrialization, including the central "take-off" stage (late 1700's to 1800). These were distinct stages that were clearly separate, as can be seen by various evidences including but not limited to agriculture, transportation, and industrial production.

The agricultural revolution, which preceded somewhat before the take-off stage, took place mainly between the 1730's and 1780's. One of the significant elements of the agricultural revolution is enclosures of small farms and common lands, which are legalized by enclosure acts passed by the government. These enclosure acts were passed at first at a slow rate of about four per year, during a stage Rostow would call "The Preconditions for Take-Off"; however, the rate dramatically increased once the take-off stage has began around 1760.

During 1760 to 1792, the annual rate of enclosure acts was increased to about forty per year. This stage is clearly outlined. A few years later, the enclosure rate increased to eighty. Because of the enclosure of small and scattered farms, richer farmers and nobility who did not leave the rural area to the factories became more aware of the efficiency in their farms, and were able to greatly increase their production rate. Some new farming techniques were developed, including new crop-rotation cycles and new ways for cattle breeding. Also, the enclosure acts forced owners of smaller farms to leave the farms for the city, which provided more workers for the factories. Clearly, the increase of labor force in this period of time was able to further the dramatic change during the "Take-Off", as mines...