Free trade and labor, promoted by enlightened laws and policies, led to dramatic changes and unparalleled increases in productivity. This Industrial Revolution transformed the livelihoods of tens of millions of people in the nineteenth century as all aspects of society were influenced. Starting with roots in global trade and economies, Britain took the early lead in industrialization due to numerous factors, and its networks helped the technologies to spread around the world. As industrialization gathered speed, productivity increased, but new problems such as poor conditions, overproduction, and new demands on time started to emerge. Culture and society started to change drastically as new social classes developed, and artists and writers started to become influenced by the changes, and horrors, of industrialization. While the Industrial Revolution usually is defined by individual inventions and inventors, the Counterpoint of this chapter shows that sometimes entire groups, like West African women farmers, were often the unsung heroes who advanced technologies and provided the complex technology that helped feed a growing global workforce.

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