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Periodization and Pedagogy in the Industrialization Era

Daniel Cooper
History 401: Social Science for Teachers
Professor Luhr
13 October 2016
Industrialization and the 19th century is traditionally dated from 1750-1900, but some
historians argue that there is much more to consider than this Eurocentric periodization of events.
Peter Stearns actually extends the traditional periodization date to 1914, or the long 19th
century.1 Periodization is defined by Peter Stearns, periodization is an attempt to manage
change, and attempt to present it coherently, by noting points where key breaks in framework
occur.2 Industrialization is one of the key means pertaining to why this era in history is
periodized the way it is. Historians such as Robert Marks, Adam McKeown, and Peter Stearns all
argue slightly altered periodizations of this era in opposition to the master narrative that has been
created that places an emphasis on the western world. These historians place an emphasis on
1 Peter Stearns, Long 19th Century? Long 20th? Retooling that Last Chunk of World
History Periodization in The History Teacher, Vol. 42, No. 2 (Society for History
Education, 2009), 224, JSTOR, (accessed
October 13, 2016).
2 Ibid., 223.

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globalization and consider outside factors beyond the western world to establish their point of
views on periodization. The current pedagogy, especially within the 10th grade standards, places
its importance on big points of change and the amount of change that takes place between those
two points,3 and fails to consider the complex process of change and continuity4 that comes
with the study of periodization as a concept of historical thinking.
The California Content standard that deals with industrialization is standard 10.3, and it is
extremely rooted in the western world. Rather than considering the effects of the Industrial
Revolution as a global process, students are constrained to consider it as a series of events and
changes stemming from England, France, Germany, Japan, and the United States.5 Some areas
within the standard ask students to consider very general and broad topics in which one could
include the outside factors that look beyond the west, but it is very much directing students to
mainly, if not only, consider western progression.
Marks considers Asian commercial dominance all the way back to the 15th century until
about 1830-1850 when The Gap or point at which western industrialization, that includes the
United States, begins to take hold.6 In other words this short period is when wealthy Asian
nations begin to decline just as industrializing nations begin to rise making the industrializers
wealthier and the declining nations poorer such as China, India, much of the rest of Asia, Africa,
and Latin America.7 After this gap comes to fruition much of the latter half of the 19th century

3 Ibid.,223.
4 Ibid., 223.
5 History-Social Science Content Standards for California Public Schools:
Kindergarten Through Grade 12 (California: California Department of Education,
2000), 43, (accessed
October 13, 2016).
6 Robert Marks, The Origins of the Modern World (United States of America:
Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, inc., 2007) 123-125.

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deals with third-world-ization.8 Marks does consider, however, the industrial rise of Russia and
includes them as industrializers that benefit from The Gap.9 He argues that among the
requirements for industrialization was a strong state determined to create the material
prerequisites for powerful armies.10 This definition would include Russia, which is not seen in
the standards, because they too rapidly industrialized after Tsar Alexander II recognized that they
were behind in the 1880s and looked to get on the same level as other industrialized nations.
Marks does also recognize that further decline occurred in the already declining nations with the
onset of imperialism.11
Adam McKeown also changes the standard periodization of the industrialization period
and begins in 1830 and extends it roughly to the 1970s or even beyond. This is because instead
of periodizing this era as being strictly within the boundaries of industrialization, he instead
considers the globalization of the world, The very idea of time-space compression implies that
much of the world has been outside of global time until now.12 McKeown considers that the
very flows that are seen to be the foundation for globalization leave out things like State
monopolization of the means of mass violence, the suppression of pirates, bandits and
autonomous lords, the consolidation of territory, and the policing of borders and jurisdictions.13
7 Ibid., 125.
8 Ibid., 131.
9 Ibid., 123.
10 Ibid., 135.
11 Ibid., 142.
12 Adam McKeown, Periodizing Globalization, in History Workshop Journal (History
Workshop Journal, 2007) 228, Oxford Journals, (accessed October 13, 2016).
13 Ibid., 224.

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Thus the periodization of this era, which very much stems from industrialization as discussed by
Marks, must extend well beyond 1900 and move deep into and through the 20th century. He has
expanded the values to be considered in this period. Globalization is a process that is very
current in history but still extends back to industrialization. The important thing to consider here
when thinking about pedagogy is that there are other outside factors beyond the master narrative
that play a large role.
Periodization is an interpretation, and when considering how history should be periodized
all angles must be considered. It is no different in the classroom. Stearns finds that the long 19th
century could work well in a classroom if it is extended out a bit to 1914, During the long 19th
century, dealing with growing western assertiveness constituted a key issue for all major
societies, setting up a whole variety of comparative exercises that form a legitimate framework
for analysis.14 He sees real validity in teaching this periodization, the focus though needs to be
expanded outward to other societies. As Stearns points out, a great way to expand students
thinking about how societies globally were being effected is to utilize comparative lessons.
Stearns and Peter Seixas both also see value in considering continuity and change which can
go hand and hand with this idea of looking past the master narrative, We encourage [students] to
peek underneath examples of change to see the continuities that contribute just as much to the
course of human history.15
It is important to keep in mind that periodization is an interpretation and there are many
different suggestions as to how this particular era of industrialization should be periodized.
14 Peter Stearns, Long 19th Century? Long 20th? Retooling that Last Chunk of World
History Periodization in The History Teacher (Society for History Education, 2009),
42:225, JSTOR, (accessed October 13, 2016).
15 Peter Seixas, Thinking About Continuity and Change, in The Big Six Historical
Thinking Concepts (Toronto: Nelson Education, 2012) 76,
(accessed October 13, 2016).

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Recently historians are moving away from the standard 1750-1900 periodization even if it is very
slight because there are so many other factors to consider that this periodization is just too rigid
and often only gives credit to western growth. Some historians, like Stearns, think the
periodization for the pedagogy could be just slightly adjusted while the content of the curriculum
shifts its focus. There are many factors at work in this period and students must use their
knowledge and skills with periodization to attempt to navigate the many moving parts to make
sense of all that is going on in this era.