Conceptualizing Capitalism: Institutions, Evolution, Future

Paperback | September 9, 2016

byGeoffrey M. Hodgson

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A few centuries ago, capitalism set in motion an explosion of economic productivity. Markets and private property had existed for millennia, but what other key institutions fostered capitalism’s relatively recent emergence? Until now, the conceptual toolkit available to answer this question has been inadequate, and economists and other social scientists have been diverted from identifying these key institutions.          

With Conceptualizing Capitalism, Geoffrey M. Hodgson offers readers a more precise conceptual framework. Drawing on a new theoretical approach called legal institutionalism, Hodgson establishes that the most important factor in the emergence of capitalism—but also among the most often overlooked—is the constitutive role of law and the state. While private property and markets are central to capitalism, they depend upon the development of an effective legal framework. Applying this legally grounded approach to the emergence of capitalism in eighteenth-century Europe, Hodgson identifies the key institutional developments that coincided with its rise. That analysis enables him to counter the widespread view that capitalism is a natural and inevitable outcome of human societies, showing instead that it is a relatively recent phenomenon, contingent upon a special form of state that protects private property and enforces contracts. After establishing the nature of capitalism, the book considers what this more precise conceptual framework can tell us about the possible future of capitalism in the twenty-first century, where some of the most important concerns are the effects of globalization, the continuing growth of inequality, and the challenges to America’s hegemony by China and others.

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A few centuries ago, capitalism set in motion an explosion of economic productivity. Markets and private property had existed for millennia, but what other key institutions fostered capitalism’s relatively recent emergence? Until now, the conceptual toolkit available to answer this question has been inadequate, and economists and other...

Geoffrey M. Hodgson is research professor at Hertfordshire Business School, University of Hertfordshire, England, and the author or coauthor of over a dozen books, including Darwin’s Conjecture and From Pleasure Machines to Moral Communities, both also published by the University of Chicago Press.

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:456 pages, 9 × 6 × 1.3 inPublished:September 9, 2016Publisher:University Of Chicago PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:022641969X

ISBN - 13:9780226419695

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Extra Content

Table of Contents

Preface
Introduction

Part I. Discovering Capitalism

Chapter 1. Distilling the Essence
Chapter 2. Social Structure and Individual Motivation
Chapter 3. Law and the State
Chapter 4. Property, Possession, and Contract
Chapter 5. Commodity Exchange and Markets
Chapter 6. Money and Finance
Chapter 7. Meanings of Capital
Chapter 8. Firms and Corporations
Chapter 9. Labor and Employment
Chapter 10. A Definition of Capitalism

Part II. Capitalism and Beyond

Chapter 11. Conceptualizing Production
Chapter 12. Socialism, Capitalism, and the State
Chapter 13. How Does Capitalism Evolve?
Chapter 14. The Future of Global Capitalism
Chapter 15. Addressing Inequality
Chapter 16. After Capitalism?

Glossary
References
Index

Editorial Reviews

“A rich traversal of capitalism in its myriad dimensions. . . . The book visits almost all dimensions of capitalism as we may think of it from employment, labour, firms, finance and property to the aspects that arguably constitute the core of this groundbreaking book: the role of the State and law.”