In order to fully understand the causes of the Industrial Revolution you must first understand what it was. The Industrial Revolution can be viewed as perhaps the most significant and far-reaching, influential transformation of human culture since the advent of agriculture. This revolution began in Europe and resulted in irreversible changes in human labor and consumption as well as family and social structure. In fact, this revolution actually changed the very way that people viewed life up to that point. .
The Cottage Industry.
Prior to this revolution, the vast majority of the population lived in the countryside, completely isolated or in small communities. The principal trade of the time was centered on farming, be it crop or cattle, both of which are very labor intensive. Men had not yet grasped the ideal of creating machines or using their cattle to ease their jobs. Life in the countryside was largely dependent upon the land and nature. This dependency upon the land and nature also meant that people had very little to do during the often long and hard winter months. The problems of winter were often compounded by a less than desirable, or failed, summer crop. All of these factors can be viewed as contributors to, or causes of, the Industrial Revolution. .
Enter the cottage industry. Developed to take advantage of the farmers' free time, the cottage industry produced high-quality low-priced textiles by subcontracting the work to the otherwise unemployed farmers during the winter months. Cloth merchants would purchase wool from the sheep markets then distribute it back into farming families to be made into cloth. This proved very profitable for the urban merchants, since they could sell the finished cloth for far more than they paid the farmers to make it. The cottage industry helped to prepare the country for the Industrial Revolution by boosting the English economy through increased trade that occured as the country became well known overseas for its high-quality, low-cost exports.