During the last half of the 19th century European intellectuals and political leader debated intensely on strategies to industrialization and modernization of their region. Their debate reached its summit during the interwar times; where for the first time in Europe full scale industrialization strategies were drafted. These strategies anticipated the issues arising from the establishment of economies that emerged after 1945. After these strategies, the emerging economies in Europe formulated highly ambitious economic and political objectives to help them to catch-up faster to the other, already established Western European economies after the Ottaman’s dark-age. These economies emerged as the first developing economies.
However, the force of the present modernization discourse remained in stark contrast of the tangible outcomes. Even though the fundamental arguments on the European’s economies establishment are still controversial, there are wide consensus that, prior to 1940, there were no industrialization progress that resulted in self-sustaining contemporary growth that took place in Southern Europe’s economies (including Romania, Bulgaria, Greece, Yugoslavia among others). In addition, there were no indications of a general catching-up economic development; the Balkan region states did not manage to bridge the gap in the Gross Domestic Percapita (GDP) with that of Western Europe. According to Jackson and Lampe, in 19th century, there was “growth without development” that they further labelled as the 19th century industrialization before 1940 as the sequence of industrial mini-spurts in comparison to Gerschenkron big spruts.
The industrialization in 19th century was described as “dependent growth” in the description of the dynamic exports based growth process for the Middle East and Southern Europe economies in the course of the globalization, which inhibited structural and industrialization changes. Despite this industrialization fall-backs, there were consensus that, during the 19th century industrialization in all regions of Southern European societies and economies, there were broader modernization progress that were underway to facilitate intense industrialization prior to the end of WWII (1945).
Though poverty was eminent among the working social classes, the industrialization created a massive amount of wealth in the European region. Most of the generated wealth remained with the owners of economic means (shippers, factory owners, and merchants). People who owned these means were part of the growing middle class: the social class that comprises of professionals, skilled workers, wealthy farmers, and businesspeople. This emerging middle class changed the social structure of the developing economies in Europe. Prior to the emergence of this class, the landowners and aristocrats occupied the high position in the society. The most of the generated wealth was used to wield the political and social jurisdiction. After industrialization, some factory, firm owners, merchants, and bankers became wealthier than the aristocrats and landowners.
In spite of the problems that were related to industrialization, the industrialization process had several positive impacts for the progress of European economies. The process established jobs to the citizen and immigrants; it also contributed significantly to the wealth of the region, and improved the production of goods that raised the standard of living. The other and perhaps the most significant attribution awarded to the industrialization is that it provided hope for the improvement of lives of the common citizens. The issue of industrialization and its impacts in the European economies may be regarded as a significant boom, considering that it is during industrialization when educational opportunities expanded in areas of professional workers, engineers among others.
The social classes such as middle class and upper class prospered significantly as a result of industrialization. However, for the workers and immigrants, the impact of industrialization took longer, though their lives improved gradually. Therefore, as much as the industrial revolution had various shortcoming and negative impacts to the European economies, there were immense positive impacts economically, politically and socially.