Academic introduction to development and capitalism
March 11, 2013 11:19 AM   Subscribe

I need to begin to familiarize myself with the academic literature in two areas I haven't studied in a class: a) definitions of capitalism and transitions to capitalism, and b) economic development, particularly mega-projects and state-supported development efforts. I'm looking for good introductions to each of these, like an upper-year undergraduate textbook or standard handbook, where I can get a feel for the major ideas in each of these areas and maybe some key references without having to do a complete literature survey. Any suggestions?
posted by jb to Education (6 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: People dont know as much as you might think. Easterly's The Elusive Quest for Growth : Economists' Adventures and Misadventures in the Tropics is a bit old but a good popular overview. We used Ray's Development Economics for a simplified (no Calculus? really?) review of the literature.

Krugman has a great chapter (The Fall and Rise of development economic) about models which I dont think is online anywhere in his Development, Geography and Economic theory.

Many people are quite taken with Why Nations Fail which talks about why some states have been able to maintian growth-sustaining institutions and why many havent. Great book.
posted by shothotbot at 11:33 AM on March 11, 2013

Best answer: I don't deal with this topic within academia so I do not know what sort of work is considered legitimate or not, and so my own readings may or may not help.

As per (a), one anthology I'm aware of is, "The Brenner Debate: Agrarian Class Structure and Economic Development in Pre-industrial Europe." I suspect you'll be able to come across a number of relevant citations there. Perry Anderson, Paul Sweezy, Maurice Dobb, Rodney Hilton, and Robert Holton are names you might expect to run across within that anthology, or if not, then within the overall conversation elsewhere.
posted by SollosQ at 11:39 AM on March 11, 2013

Response by poster: I was aware of the Brenner debate, but I only skimmed it years ago; I need to reread it.

But I'd also really like some more recent references and non-historical ones (my own field is early modern British history, so I'm familiar with Thompson, Tawney, etc).
posted by jb at 12:08 PM on March 11, 2013

Best answer: This is a good orientation to the field, useful for getting a handle on concepts, terminology and debates.

It's 10+ years old now though, so some of the info will be out of date.
posted by philipy at 12:09 PM on March 11, 2013

Best answer: It may be useful to familiarize yourself with Karl Polanyi's The Great Transformation.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 3:55 AM on March 12, 2013

Best answer: I think "capitalism studies" is a thing now, might be worth perusing the site for Harvard's Program on the Study of Capitalism.

From the poli sci/political economy direction Varieties of Capitalism (from 2003) was the starting point for a lot of scholarship, I think.

The question also made me think of David Ekbladh's The Great American Mission:
Modernization and the Construction of an American World Order
. It's history, but it's American & recent, so maybe a useful starting point.
posted by yarrow at 10:53 AM on March 12, 2013

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