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Proto-industrialization: The First Phase of the Industrialization Process

  • Franklin F. Mendels (a1)

Well before the beginning of machine industry, many regions of Europe became increasingly industrialized in the sense that a growing proportion of their labor potential was allocated to industry. Yet, that type of industry—the traditionally organized, principally rural handicrafts—barely fits the image one has of a modernizing economy. There is, however, cognitive value as well as didactic advantage in thinking of the growth of “pre-industrial industry” as part and parcel of the process of “industrialization” or, rather, as a first phase which preceded and prepared modern industrialization proper.

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I have greatly benefited from the suggestions made by Lutz Berkner and Alan Olmstead as well as Robert Brenner, Manuel Gollas, Temma Kaplan, Domenico Sella, and Jonathan Wiener. However, responsibility for all remaining errors is only mine. This research was made possible by USPHS Grant HD 05586–01 and by grants from the UCLA Senate Research Committee.

1 Rather than attempting to present even an aperçu of the historiography of this subject, I refer readers to Domenico Sella's excellent European Industries 1500–1700, The Fontana Economic History of Europe, Cipolla, Carlo M., (ed.), Vol. II, Sec. 5 (London: Collins, 1970); Kellenbenz, Hermann, “Les industries rurales en Occident de la fin du Moyen Age au XVIIIè siècle,” Annales E. S. C., XVIII (1963), 833–82; and Smith, C. T., An Historical Geography of Western Europe until 1800 (London: Longmans, 1967), chs. vii and x.

2 Freudenberger, Herman and Redlich, Fritz have previously utilized the term “protofactory” in “The Industrial Development of Europe: Reality, Symbols, Images,” Kyklos, XVII (1964), 372402. By this term they refer to pre-factory centralized manufacturing plants.

3 Georgescu-Roegen, Nicholas, “The Economics of Production,” American Economic Review, Papers and Proceedings, LX (1970), 19; Luning, H. A., Economic Aspects of Low Labour-Income Farming (Wageningen: Centre for Agricultural Publications and Documentation, 1967); Mendels, Franklin, “Industrialization and Population Pressure in Eighteenth-Century Flanders,” (unpublished dissertation, University of Wisconsin, 1969), pp. 112ff.

4 It is thus interesting to note that, according to Peter Timmer, the “agricultural revolution” increased the labor-intensiveness of the main agricultural processes but did not further increase summer peak loads. I have found, however, that such peakloads were increased by flax and potato cultivation in Flanders. See Timmer, C. Peter, “The Turnip, the New Husbandry, and the English Agricultural Revolution,” Quarterly Journal of Economics, LXXXIII (1969), 375–95; Mendels, “Industrialization and Population Pressure,” pp. 134–38.

5 Endrei, Walter, L'évolution des techniques du filage et du tissage du Moyen Age à la rèvolution industrielle (Paris: Mouton, 1968); Sella, European Industries, pp. 50–1.

6 Coubert, Pierre, “The French Peasantry in the Seventeenth Century, A Regional Example,” in Aston, T. (ed.), Crisis in Europe, 1560–1660 (New York: Anchor, 1967), pp. 127–8; Roessingh, K.“Beroep en bedrijf op de Weluwe in het midden van de achttiende eeuw,” A. A. G. Bijdragen, No. 13 (1965), 204 and Bath, Bernhard Slicher van, “Historical Demography and the Social and Economic Development of the Netherlands,” Historical Population Studies, Daedalus (Spring, 1968), 616; Bythell, Duncan, The Handloom Weavers (London: Cambridge University Press, 1969), pp. 42–3, 270; Deprez, Paul, “De Kasselrij von de Oudburg in de 18de eeuw” (Unpublished dissertation, University of Chent, 1960), and Mendels, “Industrialization and Population Pressure,” pp. 198ff.

7 There were some areas with particularly favorable social and political structure where some rural weavers accumulated capital to eventually become the launchers of the factory system. E.g., Braun, Rudolf, ‘The Rise of a Rural Class of Entrepreneurs,” Journal of World History, X (1967), 551–66.

8 Mendels, “Industrialization and Population Pressure,” p. 202.

9 There was, moreover, an absence of the costs attendant to the migration of large numbers, of workers, the construction of housing for them and the provision of amenities (however minimal) which were later required for urban industrialization while capital losses were incurred in the countryside when farm houses were abandoned by migrants.

10 Landes, David, The Unbound Prometheus (Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 1969), pp. 57ff; Smelser, Neil, Social Change and the Industrial Revolution (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1959); Pollard, Sidney, The Genesis of Modern Management (Baltimore: Penguin, 1968), pp. 4250 and chap v.

11 Constans, , Tableau politique du départment de l’Ourte (sic) (Brussels, 1801), pp. 86–7 (translation mine).

12 A vivid description of the seasonal character in the Ural iron foundries has been made by Portal, Roger in L'Oural au XVllIè siècle (Paris: Institut d'Etudes Slaves, 1950), pp. 241–45. For the continued attachment of Russian factory workers to the demands of the village see von Laue, Theodore, “Russian Peasants in the Factory,” The Journal of Economic History, XXI (1961), 7080.

13 See Chapman, S. D., The Early Factory Masters (Newton Abbott: David and Charles, 1967); also Adelmann, Gerhard, “Structural Change in the Rhenish Linen and Cotton Trades at the Outset of Industrialization,” in Crouzet, Françoiset al. (eds.), Essays in European Economic History (London: Arnold, 1969), p. 97.

14 Musson, A. E. and Robinson, Eric, Science and Technology in the Industrial Revolution (Manchester:. Manchester University Press, 1969).

15 Jones, Eric, “The Agricultural Origins of Industry,” Past and Present, No. 40 (1968), 58–71. See below.

16 This framework is borrowed from David Landes, Unbound Prometheus, pp. 126ff.

17 Henderson, W. O., Britain and Industrial Europe (Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 1954); Landes, Unbound Prometheus, pp. 138, 149, 151; Stearns, Peter, “British Industry through the Eyes of French Industrialists, 1820–1848,” Journal of Modem History, XXXVII (1965), 5061; Adelmann, “Structural Change,” p. 86.

18 For industrial maps of Germany, see Zorn, Wolfgang, “Eine Wirtschaftskarte Deutschlands um 1820 als Spiegel der gewerblichen Entwichklung,” in Lütge, Friedrich (ed.), Wirtschaftliche und soziale Probleme der gewerbliche Entwicklung im 15.-16. und 19. Jahrhundert (Stuttgart: Fischer, 1968), pp. 142–55; for Russia, Parker, W. H., An Historical Geography of Russia (London: Athlone Press, 1968), passim.

19 Kisch, Herbert, “The Textile Industries in Silesia and the Rhineland: A Comparative Study in Industrialization,” The Journal, of Economic History, XIX (1959), 541–63; Kemp, Tom, Industrialization in Nineteenth-Century Europe (London: Longmans, 1969).

20 Landes, Unbound Prometheus, p. 260.

21 Markovitch, T. J., L'industrie francaisede 1789 d 1964, Cahiers de I'Institut de Science Economique Appliquée, AF 7, No. 179 (1966); Wolfram Fischer and Peter Czada, “20th Century Changes in the Structure of German Industry,” a paper prepared for the 4th International Conference of Economic History, Bloomington, 1968 (mimeographed summary); Wolfram Fischer, “Die Rolle des Kleingewerbes im Wirtschaftlichen Wachstumprozesz in Deutschland, 1850–1914,” in Ltttge, Wirtschaftliche un sozialeProbleme; Fischer, , “Das Deutsche Handwerk in den Fruhphasen der Industrialisierung,” Zeitschrift fur die gesamte Staatswissenschaft, CXX (1964), 686712.

22 Kuznets, Simon, “Notes on the Take-Off,” in Rostow, W. W., (ed.), The Economics of Take-Oft Into Sustained Growth (London: Macmillan, 1963), pp. 23–4.

23 In contrast, the beginning of phase two is relatively easy to identify in a given city, industry, or region.

24 Jones, “Agricultural Origins.”

25 de Vries, Jan, “The Role of the Rural Sector in the Expansion of the Dutch Economy, 1500–1700” (unpublished dissertation, Yale University, 1970).

26 Petraň, Joseph, “A propos de la formation des régions de la production spécialisée en Europe centrale,’ Second International Conference of Economic History, Aix-en-Provence 1962 (Paris: Mouton, 1965), pp. 217–22. From a Japanese farmer's long diary which has been exploited by Thomas C. Smith, we learn, of a similar abandonment of hemp production for home consumption in one village while it is increased in another province in the eighteenth century. Smith, T. C., The Agrarian Origins of Modern Japan (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1959). The central importance of traditional industries in the process of industrialization has not escaped the attention of historians of Japan. Kazuki Ohkawa and Henry Rosovsky have stressed not only their persistence, which had already attracted the attention of W. W. Lockwood, but their positive contribution, particularly during the phase of “Initial Modern Economic Growth” (1886–1905). Ohkawa, and Rosovsky, , ‘A Century of Japanese Economic Growth,” in Lockwood, W. W., (ed.), The State and Economic Enterprise in Japan (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1965), pp. 4792. On the bimodal distribution of industrial employment which resulted in Japan— and Europe as well—due to the persistence of handicrafts during modern industrialization, see David Landes, “Japan and Europe: Contrasts in Industrialization,” in ibid., p. 174.

27 Pirenne, Henri, Economic and Social History of Medieval Europe (New York: Harcourt, Brace and Co., 1937); C. T. Smith, Historical Geography, chap, vii; Wilson, Eleanor Carus, Medieval Merchant Venturers (London: Methuen, 1967), chap. iv.

28 de Vries, “Role of Rural Sector.”

29 Jones, “Agricultural Origins” and Jones, , “English and European Agricultural Development, 1650–1750,” in Hartwell, R. M., (ed.), The Industrial Revolution (Oxford: Blackwell, 1970), pp. 4276.

30 Eric Hobsbawm, “The Crisis of the Seventeenth Century,” in Aston, Crisis in Europe, pp. 53–6. This would be consistent with the model which was established by Stephen Hymer and Stephen Resnick and purports to analyze the disappearance of rural handicrafts for home consumption and their replacement by the products of specialized manufacturing centers. Under this model, the opening up of a country to foreign trade is one of the forces that could promote such specialization. Hymer, and Resnick, , “A Model of an Agrarian Economy with Non-Agricultural Activities,” American Economic Review, LIX (1969), 493506.

31 As Professor Landes commented at the Atlantic City meeting.

32 Labrousse, Charles Emest, La crise de l'éconotnie française à la fin de I'Ancien Régime et au début de la Révolution (Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1944); Labrousse, , Esquisse du mouvement des prix et des revenus en France au XVIIIé siécle (Paris: Librairie Dalloz, 1933); Labrousse, et al., Histoire dconomique et sociale de la France, Vol. II (Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1970), pp. 529–66.

33 Mendels, “Industrialization and Population Pressure,” p. 271.

M is the annual percentage change in the total number of marriages in the considered villages;

M −1 is the same variable lagged one year;

R is the annual percentage change in the price of rye in Ghent;

R −1, R −2, R −3 is the same variable lagged one, two, and three years;

L, L −1, L −2, L −3 is the annual percentage change in the price of linen in Spain and its lagged values;

N is the number of observations.

Numbers in brackets are t-coefficients.

Starred coefficients are significant at the 5 percent level of confidence.

The independent variable M −1, measures the tendency of marriages to fluctuate from year to year, which has often been noted by demographers.

34 P −1 is the annual percentage change in the linen/rye price ratio, where prices are measured in weight of silver, lagged one year.

35 PP and NP are, respectively, positive and negative values of P. The same equations were run for six groups of industrial villages. In five cases, the findings were the same as those presented in equations 2, 3, and 4.

36 See Suits, Daniel B., “The Determinants of Consumer Expenditures,” Commission on Money and Credit, Impacts of Monetary Policy (Englewood Cliffs, N. J.: Prentice Hall, 1963), pp. 50–1.

37 As expected, in Maritime Flanders, where rural industry was absent, but where a highly developed commercial agriculture had planted firm roots, nuptiality was positively correlated with high grain prices, though not strongly and with an unexplained two-year lag. Demand for labor was here a direct function of the value of the marginal agricultural product. There was no correlation between marriages and linen. Mendels, “Industrialization,” p. 271.

38 See evidence for a falling age of marriage and population growth in Deprez, Paul, “The Demographic Development of Eighteenth-Century Flanders,” in Glass, D. V. and Eversley, D. E. C., (eds.), Population in History (Chicago: Aldine, 1965), pp. 608–30.

39 Braun, Rudolph, Industrialisierung und Volksleben: die Veränderungen der Lebensformen in einem ländlichen Industriegebiet vor 1800 (Zürich: Eugen Rentsch, 1960); a section of this translated in Braun, , “The Impact of Cottage Industry on an Agricultural Population,” in Landes, David, (ed.), The Rise of Capitalism (New York: Macmillan, 1964), pp. 5364; see also Jonathan D. Chambers, The Vale of Trent, 1660–1800, Economic History Review Supplement No. 3 (Cambridge, Eng., 1957); Deane, Phyllis and Cole, W. A., British Economic Growth 1688–1959 (Cambridge [England]: University Press, 1962), chap, iii; Deprez, Paul, “Demographic Development”; Wrigley, E. A., Population and History (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1969), pp. 135–44.

40 E.g., Thirsk, Joan, “Industries in the Countryside,” Essays in the Economic and Social History of Tudor and Stuart England, Fisher, F. J., (ed.), (Cambridge [England]: University Press, 1961), pp. 7088.

41 See above, p. 2.

42 See Hewitt, Margaret, Wives and Mothers in Victorian England (London-Rockliff: 1958).

43 Friedlander, Dov, “Demographic Responses and Population Change,” Demography, VI (1969), 359–81.

44 A recent survey can be found in Robinson, Warren C., “Types of Disguised Rural Unemployment and Some Policy Implications,” Oxford Economic Papers, XXI (1969), 373–86.

45 Fei, John C. H. and Ranis, Gustav, Development of the Labor Surplus Economy (Homewood, III: Irwin, 1964), pp; 145, 168.

46 Arthur Young wrote oh the contrary “that when.the fabrics spread.into all the cottages of a country, as in France and Ireland, such a circumstance is absolutely destructive of agriculture.” But this is a fallacious conclusion from his own observations of the existence of specialization between purely commercial agricultural regions and regions with rural industry and subsistence farms: “that the manufacturing districts in France and England are’ the worst cultivated. That the best cultivation in England, and some of the best in France, must be looked for where no manufactures are found.” By “best” he meant large farms producing for the market. Young, Arthur, Travels in France during the Years 1787, 1788, and 1789, Kaplow, Jeffry, (ed.), (New York: Anchor 1969), p. 437 and passim.

47 Collins, E. J. T., “Labour Supply and Demand in European Agriculture, 1800–1880,” in Jones, Eric L. and Woolf, S. J., (eds.), Agrarian Change and Economic Development: the Historical Problems (London: Methiien, 1969); pp. 6194 and sources cited in fn. 3 above.

48 Collins, ibid.

49 Mutatis mutandis, there is much to be learned here, from Hymer and Resnick, “Model of an Agrarian Economy.”

50 Ohkawa and Rosovsky, “Century of Japanese Economic Growth,” p. 81; Henry Rosovsky, “Relations between Traditional and Modern Societies,” 4th International Conference of Economic History, Bloomington, 1968 (mimeographed).

51 Jean Lhomme, Economie et histoire (Geneva: Droz, 1967), chap, iv and Maurice Lévy-Leboyer, “La croissance économique en France au XIXé siécle,” Annales E. S. C, XXIII (1968), 795.

52 Neyrinck, M., De lonen in België sedert 1846 (Louvain, 1944), p. 182; Lebrun's work is reported in Devleeshouwer, Robert, “Le Consulat et l'Empire: période de ‘take-off’ pour l'économie beige?” Revue d'histoire moderne et contemporaine, XVII (1970), 611–19.

53 Hicks, John R., A Theory of Economic History (London: Oxford University Press, 1969), chap, ix, “The Industrial Revolution.” For empirical evidence, Sidney Pollard finds that: “What was noteworthy was not so much the absolute (and probably also the relative) growth in the quantity of capital, but a change in its composition: the emergence, for the first time, of large concentrations of fixed capital.” Pollard, Sidney, “Fixed Capital in the Industrial Revolution,” The Journal of Economic History, XXIV (1964), 299. See also Pollard, , “The Growth and Distribution of Capital in Great Britain, c. 1770–1870,” Third International Conference of Economic History, Munich, 1965 (Paris: Mouton, 1968), p. 362; Chapman, Early Factory Masters; and Lebrun, Pierre, “Croissance industrielle: 1'expérience de l'industrie drapière verviétoise,” First International Conference of Economics, Stockholm, 1960 (Paris: Mouton, 1960), p. 561.

54 Hicks, Theory of Economic History, pp. 28–9.

55 Hicks, John R., Capital and Growth (London: Oxford University Press, 1965), chap iv. Stress on the switch from circulating to fixed capital is also provided in a new model by Fei, John and Ranis, Gustav, “Economic Development in Historical Perspective,” American Economic Review, Papers and Proceedings, LIX (1969), 386400.

56 The paragraph which follows is based on Hicks, Capital and Growth, pp. 31–4.

57 Marshall, Principles of Economics,p. 376, quoted in ibid.

58 Deane, Phyllis, The Industrial Revolution in England, 1700–1914, The Fontana Economic History of Europe, Cipolla, Carlo M., (ed.), (London: Collins, 1969); Walther Hoffmann “tries to establish the fact that [the take-off period could be placed] between 1830–35 and 1855–60” but all that can be established is the weak conclusion “that by the middle of the nineteenth century economic conditions were well set in Germany to allow for a transition into sustained growth.” Hoffmann, , “The Take-off in Germany,” in Rostow, W. W., (ed.), Economics of Take-off into Sustained Growth (London: Macmillan, 1963), pp. 96, 117; for France, see below and for Belgium, see above, fn. 52.

59 Gerschenkron, Alexander, Economic Backwardness in Historical Perspective (Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press, 1962).

60 Switzerland is an example of an advanced country—see the calculations made by Bairoch, Paul, “Niveaux de devéloppement économique de 1810 à 1910,” Annales E. S. C. XX (1965), 10911117—whose industrialization remained based on old “proto-industrial” forms of organization for much of the nineteenth century. Industry remained decentralized, rural, and in the hands of peasants much later than in any other country with similar advances in per capita consumption. See Biucchi, M., The Industrial Revolution in Switzerland, 1700–1914, The Fontana Economic History of Europe, Cipolla, Carlo M., (ed.), (London: Collins, 1969) and Bürgen, Alfred, “The Growth of the Swiss National Economy,” in Aitken, H. G. J., (ed.), The State and Economic Growth (New York: Social Science Research Council, 1959), pp. 213–36.

61 Deane and Cole, Brithh Economic Growth pp. 137–39, 164.

62 Reported by Jean Marzewski, “The Take-off in France,” in Rostow, Economics of Take-off, p. 131.

63 Ibid., p. 120; Deane and Cole, p. 166; Hoffmann, W. G., Das Wachstum der deutschen Wirtschaft sett der Mitte aes 19. Jahrhunderts (Berlin: Springer, 1965), p. 33.

64 Markovitch, L'industrie française, p. 317; restated in Markovitch, , “L'industrie lainière française au début du XVIIIè siècle,” Revue d'histoire économique et sociale XLVI (1968), 578–79.

65 Marczewski, Jean, “Le produit physique de l'écoriomie française der 1789 à 1913 (Comparaison avec la Grande Bretagne),” Cahiers de I'Institut de Science Economique Appliquée, AF 4, No. 163 (July 1964), p. xx, Table 3.

66 Crouzet, François, “Essai de construction d'un indice annuel de la production industrielle française au XIXè siècle,” Annales E. S. C., XXV (1970), 56101.

67 Maurice Lévy-Leboyer, “Les processus d'industrialisation: les cas de l'Angleterre et de la France,” Revue Historique, No. 239 (1968), 281–98.

68 See Jaffe, A. J. and Azumi, K., “The Birth Rate and Cottage Industries in Underdeveloped Countries,” Economic Development and Cultural Change, IX (1960), 5263.

69 Tilly, Charles and Tilly, Richard, “Emerging Problems in the Modern Economic History of Western Europe,” 1971 (mimeographed), summarized as “An Agenda for European Economic History in the 1970's,” THE JOURNAL OF ECONOMIC HISTORY XXXI (1971), 184–98.

70 See the work of Sidney Pollard and E. P. Thompson; as cited in Tilly and Tilly, “Emerging Problems,” and Georgescu-Roegen, Nicholas, “Process in Fanning Versus Process in Manufacturing,” in Papi, Ugo and Nunn, Charles, (eds.), Economic Problems of Agriculture in Industrial Societies (London: Macmillan, 1969).

71 See E. P. Thompson, Eric Hobsbawm, and George Rude, as cited in Tilly and Tilly, “Emerging Problems.”

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