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The transformation of England : essays in…

The transformation of England : essays in the economic and social history…

by Peter Mathias

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This is a collection of essays previously published in journals, conference proceedings and studies of economic history around the world. They are interesting explorations of what made the Industrial Revolution uniquely English, whether it's fair to compare English activity with that on the European mainland, and how incipient globalisation impacted on knowledge exchange and technological development. I had to read The First Industrial Nation during my first degree, so I knew how engagingly Mathias writes on his subject and many of the themes were familiar to me. It was a bit like reading a collection of short stories by an author better known for novels. I particularly enjoyed his exploration of how closely entwined scientific discovery and technological advance actually were, and what the relationship was between science and industry prior to the institutionalisation of science in the 19th century. Also of interest, and seeming fresh even 36 years after publication, was the exploration of wage rates for the working classes and the pernicious assumption on the part of the holders of wealth that keeping people poor would increase their productivity. As Mathias points out, this goes against empirically tested theories of supply, demand and pricing. At the root of the assumption, which extended to the belief that higher wages would increase indolence and encourage antisocial behaviours (enjoying the same leisure activities that the holders of wealth wanted for themselves), was a need on the part of the wealthy to control the workers whose exploitation brought them wealth. Same old, same old. The final essay is an attempt to put a new spin on Samuel Johnson, who had connection all over the place, and could be interpreted as having an interest in economics. At a pinch. Mathias gives it a go, anyway! ( )
  missizicks | Dec 21, 2015 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0231050461, Hardcover)

Peter Mathias’s subject is the creation in late eighteenth-century England of the industrial system – and thereby the present world. That unique conjuncture poses the sharpest questions about the nature of industrialization, social change and historical explanation, issues that are his principal scholarly concern. For many readers these collected studies will be as indispensable as the author’s general introduction, The First Industrial Nation, whether for the richness of their material or the freedom and subtlety of his analysis.

These fascinating essays are divided into two groups: general themes, the ‘uniqueness’ in Europe of the industrial revolution, capital formation, taxation, the growth of skills, science and technical change, leisure and wages, diagnoses of poverty; and topics, the social structure, the industrialization of brewing, coinage, agriculture and the drink industries, advances in public health and the armed forces, British and American public finance in the War of Independence, Dr Johnson and the business world.

This book was first published in 1979.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:08:30 -0400)

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