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General Economic History (Anglais) Broché – 11 décembre 2013

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1 internautes sur 1 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Eclectic, unconventional, and ingenious 9 septembre 2015
Par Hannes Malmberg - Publié sur
Format: Broché Achat vérifié
Before reviewing the book I will say a few things about how it came about. This is *not* a book written by Weber himself -- instead it is reproduced from lecture notes in an economic history course that he gave. It does not detract from the genius of the book, but it does mean that the material occasionally feels a bit disorganized.

Now to the good parts.

Weber accounts world economic history up to modern capitalism from his particular vantage point. He starts with the agricultural village, goes to pre-capitalistic industry and mining, the commercial system before capitalism, as well as outlining the institutional and ideological foundations for modern capitalism.

The book is driven by his key theoretical concerns: the importance of political institutions; rationalization in world history; the evolutionary nature of social institutions; the role of religion and magic in social life. Despite the attention paid to sociological factors, the analysis is done without ever losing sight of the classic economic concerns: market pricing, investments being made in response to returns, money being a facilitator of exchange, the importance of incentives in the construction of financial contracts, etc. As an economic PhD student I feel myself at home.

In that sense it is the most comprehensive economic history I've read. Other histories often want to push their particular hypothesis, and their choice of material reflects this aim. Now Weber also has an hypothesis, but he also believes that every theory is partial, and shows this incompleteness by describing strange things off the beaten theoretical track. One of my personal favorites is that using the Arabic numeral system in accounting was seen as "unfair competition", which delayed its adoption.

This can be seen as eclectic, but is understandable once we realize that Weber wants to show his students that history is not a linear progression in perfect concord with his theory. It also allows us to get a glimpse of what he considered to be of secondary importance, and allows us to judge his theory.

Now some warning. The book is very dense and a bit unconventional in style. When we discussed it in our economic reading group, it could take half an hour to summarize 12 pages. Also, there are confusing side-tracks running into pages about the details of different monetary regimes, the structure of Germanic peasant villages, and financial contracts in Babylonia. In one sense, you are overwhelmed by Weber's vast erudition; in another sense, you think "get to the point".

But it is still an extremely useful book to read. Firstly, because you realize that there isn't "the point" with economic history, but a collection of facts which we have a partial theoretical understanding of, and that all our explanations have exceptions. Secondly, because he gives an excellent outline of the different concerns we need to bring to an analysis of history: technical, instiutional, ideological, religious.

In the end, you won't know everything about economic history, but you will have a much better sense of what there is to know.
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Best single book to read about Max Weber 2 novembre 2015
Par Ivan - Publié sur
Format: Relié
This book was assembled from student notes, but it contains the maturest condensation of Weber's world historical vision. Everything else has methodological strictures, but this compilation really provides his fullest thought. For example, Weber did not think that Protestantism caused capitalism, but one might suppose he did who read only his Protestant Ethic. That monographic effort was a deliberate attempt to examine the supply side, ignoring the rest, in order to make the point, then very novel, that economic activity is deeply cultural. The General Economic History also introduces middleman minorities, a topic that went on to become cultural and social capital a century later.
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3.0 étoiles sur 5 creepy instruction for German students 21 novembre 2010
Par epic phlegm Hooha - Publié sur
Format: Broché Achat vérifié
Early economics has been reduced by philosophers to making the relationship of master and slave productive. Max Weber makes fine distinctions in the kinds of relationships that gives the superior powers of life or death, or all powers except life and death, over people who are supposed to be doing the work. The financial system that makes Americans expect huge gains without producing much is like the $84 billion dollars expected to modernize the nuclear weapons systems in the next ten years: with the power to wipe out life on earth, Americans don't expect any powerful objections to setting up whatever form of collective financial suicide is likely to result from the marginal thinking of millionaires and billionaires.

People survived without electricity and indoor plumbing for most of recorded history, but basic expectations like transportation, as in Chapter XV:

Technical Requisites for the Transportation of Goods

had rowing and sailing instead of planes and airports for going long distances.

Chapter XI had Disintegration of the Guilds. We may discover news ways to arrive at domestic industry.
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