OXFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS

Taming Capitalism before its Triumph: Public Service, Distrust, and 'Projecting' in Early Modern England

ISBN : 9780198739173

Price(incl.tax): 
¥11,869
Author: 
Koji Yamamoto
Pages
352 Pages
Format
Hardcover
Size
156 x 234 mm
Pub date
Mar 2018

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  • The first study to document a history of numerous visible hands taming incipient capitalism, a story that Adam Smith and his admirers set aside
  • Reveals the remarkable extent to which the culture of improvement in early modern England was not only preoccupied with promises of public service, but also pervaded by a strong public distrust of such promises
  • Places the evolution of ideas about 'projecting' or entrepreneurship within the context of state-formation, mercantilism, and the rise of the fiscal state and the financial revolution
  • Presents case studies of concrete projects drawing on sources conventionally used in political history, local history, parliamentary history, and the history of science
  • Develops a fresh, integrated, account of England's incipient capitalism that has civic, as well as scholarly, implications

     
This study examines the darker side of England's culture of economic improvement between 1640 and 1720. It is often suggested that England in this period grew strikingly confident of its prospect for unlimited growth. Indeed, merchants, inventors, and others promised to achieve immense profit and abundance. Such flowery promises were then, as now, prone to perversion, however. This volume is concerned with the taming of incipient capitalism — how a society in the past responded when promises of wealth creation went badly wrong. It reveals a history of numerous visible hands taming incipient capitalism, a story that Adam Smith and his admirers have long set aside.
  
The notion of 'projecting' played a key role in this process. Thriving theatre, literature, and popular culture in the age of Ben Jonson began elaborating on predominantly negative images of entrepreneurs or 'projectors' as people who pursued Crown's and their own profits at the public's expense. This study examines how the ensuing public distrust came to shape the negotiation in the subsequent decades over the nature of embryonic capitalism. The result is a set of fascinating discoveries. By scrutinising greedy 'projectors', the incipient public sphere helped reorient the practices and priorities of entrepreneurs and statesmen away from the most damaging of rent-seeking behaviours. Far from being a recent response to mainstream capitalism, ideas about socially responsible business have long shaped the pursuit of wealth, power, and profit. Taming Capitalism before its Triumph unravels the rich history of broken promises of public service and ensuing public suspicion — a story that throws fresh light on England's 'transition to capitalism', especially the emergence of consumer society and the financial revolution towards the end of the seventeenth century.

Index: 

Introduction: Projecting and Capitalism: A Reappraisal
1: Contexts and Contours
2: Broken Promises and the Rise of a Stereotype
3: Reformation and Distrust
4: Turning a Project into Reality
5: Memories, Propriety and Emulation
6: Consuming Projects
Conclusion: Visible Hands Taming Capitalism
Bibliography

About the author: 

Koji Yamamoto, Assistant Professor in Business History, University of Tokyo
  
Koji Yamamoto is a historian of early modern England. He has spent twelve happy years in the UK, taking master's and doctoral degrees in York, and subsequently working at universities in London (King's College London), St Andrews, Edinburgh, and Cambridge. He was a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow between 2012 and 2014. From April 2016, he has been an Assistant Professor in Business History at the Faculty of Economics, the University of Tokyo.

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