<i>Homo economicus judaicus</i> and the Spirit of Capitalism, 1848–1914

Derek J. Penslar

in Shylock's Children

Published by University of California Press

Published in print January 2001 | ISBN: 9780520225909
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520925847 | DOI:
Homo economicus judaicus and the Spirit of Capitalism, 1848–1914

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This chapter discusses the flourishing of commercial and industrial capitalism in nineteenth-century Europe that strengthened the historic association between Jews and Trade. For Jews, as for any ethnic minority that falls into a particular economic niche, economic distinctiveness may engender or reinforce group identity. The Homo economicus judaicus, who was glorified by middle-class Jews in western Europe, was one of their own kind or a heroic progenitor of bourgeois Jewish society. When bourgeois Jews turned their attention from themselves to eastern Europe, their visages darkened. Impoverished eastern European Jews, particularly the millions who traveled westward, became the site of a different kind of Jewish social knowledge and the object of a new academic language: that of scientific philanthropy.

Keywords: capitalism; Europe; Jews; Trade; ethnic minority; Homo economicus judaicus; bourgeois Jewish society; bourgeois Jews; scientific philanthropy

Chapter.  20656 words. 

Subjects: Modern History (1700 to 1945)

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