Birol Yesilada

Date of Award

Summer 8-11-2014

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.) in Political Science


Political Science

Physical Description

1 online resource (vi, 126 pages)


Industrial revolution, Economic history -- 1750-1918, Capitalism, Europe -- Economic conditions -- 18th century, Europe -- Economic conditions -- 19th century




'The Industrial Revolution' is simultaneously one of the most under-examined and overly-simplified concepts in all of social science. One of the ways it is highly under-examined is in the arena of the ecological, particularly through the lens of critical world-history. This paper attempts to analyze the phenomenon through the lens of the world-ecology synthesis, in three distinct phases: First, the history of the conceptualization of the Industrial Revolution is examined at length, paying special attention to the knowledge foundations that determine these conceptualizations. Secondly, I sift out what I believe is the dominant model throughout most of modern and now postmodern history, which I identify as the techno-economic narrative. I then present the main critical world-historical challenge to that argument (that the Industrial Revolution was a unified, linear, two-century phenomenon) by outlining the critical interpretations of Fernand Braudel, Immanuel Wallerstein, Giovanni Arrighi, among others, leading a view of industrialization that is over the very long term, or what Braudel referred to as the longue durée. This long-view form of critical historical analysis is unabashedly Marxist, so there is some foray into various pieces of the Marxian canon, pieces that are often left untouched or at the least under-utilized in many politico-economic analyses of environmental history and politico-ecological narratives as well. Thirdly, I attempt to bring this new long-form view of industrialization more firmly into the ecological, but filtering the basic presuppositions of the 'techno-economic' narratives and the Marxist 'critical world-historical' narratives through the presuppositions of Jason W. Moore's world-ecology synthesis. What we arrive at through this filtering process is a very different view of the Industrial Revolution than we are used to hearing about. This is Part I of a much larger research process, one that I intend to bring into the present and future by looking at the development process of the BRICS as the next extension of the Industrial Revolution. What this paper is most concerned with is re-igniting what I think is a valuable debate among theorists, economic historians, and Marxist ecological thinkers, the debate about what exactly this phenomenon was, is, and will be. My small contribution is to re-define it in relationship to its really-existing history, including its antecedents and possible future expansions.

Persistent Identifier