- In Western Europe and parts of Central Europe, the growth of industrial production and trade meant the growth of towns and the emergence of commercial classes whose existence was based on production for the market.
- Industrialisation began in England in the second half of the 18th century, but in France and parts of the German States, it occurred only during the 19th century.
- In its wake, new social groups came into being, a working class population and middle classes made up of industrialists, businessmen and professionals.
- In Central and Eastern Europe, these groups were smaller in numbers till late 19th century.
- It was among the educated, liberal middle classes that ideas of national unity following the abolition of aristocratic privileges gained popularity.