Recently, Joel Mokyr wrote the following, in a piece entitled "'The Holy Land of Industrialism': rethinking the Industrial Revolution"
"On the eve of the Industrial Revolution, Britain’s high-skilled workers were superior to those anywhere else, and this difference was a critical element in its technological performance during the Industrial Revolution. The institution that produced this superior competence was British apprenticeship, which was the chief source of technical human capital in this age."
Not everyone agreed...
In a reply entitled 'Slavery, Atlantic trade and skills: a response to Mokyr’s ‘Holy Land of Industrialism’', Maxine Berg and Pat Hudson wrote: 'We challenge the idea that Britain’s short-lived industrial primacy in the late 18th and early 19th centuries is explained by ‘comparative advantage’ in high-level artisan skills possessed by an elite workforce. Skills were vital to the industrial revolution but the timing of change and its regional concentration suggest that Britain’s rise to dominance in Atlantic trade was the major causal factor. Rapidly growing markets in Africa and the Americas, especially for textiles and metalwares, centred on Britain’s leading role in the slave trade and the extension of her plantation frontier in the Caribbean. Structural and industrial change, concentrated in the economic hinterlands of Atlantic ports, facilitated product and process revolutions. Diverse Atlantic demands and new Atlantic raw material supplies stimulated skill development and key innovations in light and heavy industry.'
For the whole debate, including other responses, please see the Journal of the British Academy, Volume 9.
The call for applications for the EUI funded PhD programme is opening on 1 November 2021. The EUI Department of History and Civilisation offers exceptional opportunities to study global connections from early modern to modern European history, in the magical city and setting of Florence.
Join us for a conversation between Coventry activists, academics and representatives who will come together to reflect on the complex history of migration, governance and asylum in the city, and explore what the consequences have been for its many communities.
Confirmed panelists include: Cllr Kindy Sandhu (Earlsdon), Lorraine Mponela (Coventry Asylum & Refugee Action Group), Reem Doukmak (Coventry Refuge & Migrant Centre), Kailing Xie (Warwick Uni), Rosamaria Cisneros (Coventry Uni) and Bernie Flatley (Coventry Roma Community)
Part of the Resonate Festival. www.warwick.ac.uk/resonate