Fall 2008

SOCS 615
The Origins of Global Capitalism


09/08/2008 - 12/12/2008
Thursday 06:30 PM - 09:00 PM

Public Affairs Center 422

How did the modern market economy come into being in Europe and why did this system expand outward to bring the rest of the world into its orbit? Why did China's economy--perhaps the most sophisticated in the world before 1600--fall into relative stagnation? Why was Britain the first country to develop mechanized industry and break out of a Malthusian trap that had restricted prosperity for millennia? And why were once "backward" economies in the 19th century (Germany, the United States, and Japan) able to surge forward so rapidly to become industrial leaders in the 20th century? These and other questions are addressed in this course on the origins of global capitalism.

We will begin by studying the profound transformation of Europe's overwhelmingly rural and agricultural economy into the most dynamic urban industrial center in the world, looking closely at entrepreneurs, technology, and changing institutions during various phases of this process. After analyzing the Industrial Revolution, we will consider such things as technological transfer, speculative bubbles, depressions, as well as the economics of empire, the complex relationship between economic, financial, and political power, and the economic impact of the two world wars. We will conclude by discussing postwar reconstruction, rapid innovation, and global economic integration in the late 20th century. The course aims to be accessible, broad, and comparative--the economy will be approached as an evolving human institution, and we will draw insights from many fields to consider the geographical, cultural, institutional, and political factors shaping economic change over time.

Required coursework includes a midterm paper (8-10 pages) and a final paper (8-10 pages).

A syllabus for this course is available at:
Course Syllabus

Erik Grimmer-Solem (B.A. Brigham Young University; M.Sc. London School of Economics and Political Science; M.Phil. Cambridge University; D.Phil. University of Oxford) is associate professor of history and author of The Rise of Historical Economics and Social Reform in Germany, 1864-1894 (Oxford University Press, 2003). Click here for more information about Erik Grimmer-Solem.


Consent of Instructor Required: No

Format: Seminar

Level: GLSP Credits: 3 Enrollment Limit: 18

Texts to purchase for this course:
Bernstein, William J. A Splendid Exchange: How Trade Shaped the World. New York: Atlantic Monthly Press, 2007. ISBN-13: 978-0871139795.

McCraw, Thomas K., ed. Creating Modern Capitalism. How Entrepreneurs, Companies, and Countries Triumphed in Three Industrial Revolutions. Cambridge, Mass and London: Harvard University Press, 1997. ISBN-13: 978-0674175563.

Mokyr, Joel. The Lever of Riches: Technological Creativity and Economic Progress. New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1990. ISBN-13: 978-0195074772.

Pomeranz, Kenneth. The Great Divergence: Europe, China, and the Making of the World Economy (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2000). ISBN-13: 978-0691090108.

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