While recently reading Deirdre McCloskey’s ‘Bourgeois Dignity’, Joel Mokyr’s ‘The Enlightened Economy’ and Eric Jones, ‘Locating the Industrial Revolution’ (discussed previously here, here and here) I was pleased to find that these authors have been able to make a strong case that the industrial revolution can be best explained by modern economic growth theory that emphasises the importance of technological progress, innovation and productivity improvement. It is reassuring that this conceptual framework fits the facts relating to the history of the last few hundred years as well as comparative growth experiences of different countries in more recent times.
I should have mentioned the growing importance of freedom of speech as a factor which would have contributed to the various strands of Enlightenment thinking noted above. This enabled the growth of social networks and civil society as discussed by Mokyr (p. 387). The line of argument in Timothy Ferris's book, 'The Science Liberty', (which I discussed here) is also relevant in this context.