I am working through C. A. Bayly's The Birth of the Modern World. The most interesting idea that he has introduced me to so far is that before there could be an Industrial Revolution, there had to be an "industrious revolution." This concept comes from Jan de Vries' helpfully named article from the Journal of Economic History, "The Industrial Revolution and the Industrious Revolution." De Vries argues that households in Britain and the Netherlands started working harder in the early 1700s at making things, and buying things that others had made.
To any follower of Max Weber, this sure sounds like the Protestant ethic brought to the level of the household. The people became industrious first, which created the right culture to receive - and foment - the "wave of gadgets" that the subsequent Industrial Revolution made and put to use.
De Vries goes on to suggest that now we are in a second industrious revolution as the average middle class household has all its members over about 15 in the labor force. I have to think about whether these two developments are really parallel.
Still, I think the idea of a cultural industrious revolution in (Protestant) households coming first and creating the market for a structural industrial revolution is a rich and helpful idea.