How did the Industrial Revolution contribute to imperialism?

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rrteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The Industrial Revolution contributed to imperialism in a number of ways. The most important was that it created a demand among American and European businessmen, and consequently politicians, for new markets. As manufacturing and industry became more and more efficient, people began to fear the possibility of overproduction, which would lead to price collapses and ultimately economic recession. So the United States sought to expand its influence in places like China (through the so-called Open Door policy) in order to guarantee access to markets. American industrialists also sought the cheap natural resources and in many cases labor that could be found around the world, and prevailed on the US government to use the military to protect their investments, especially in Latin America. Finally, the Industrial Revolution added to the imbalance in wealth and technology between western societies and the rest of the world, and this imbalance served as both a cause and an ideological justification for imperialism.