Journal Article

Contextual political economy, not Whig economics

Amiya Kumar Bagchi

in Cambridge Journal of Economics

Published on behalf of Cambridge Political Economy Society

Volume 38, issue 3, pages 545-562
Published in print May 2014 | ISSN: 0309-166X
Published online October 2013 | e-ISSN: 1464-3545 | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/cje/bet041
Contextual political economy, not Whig economics

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  • Technological Change; Research and Development
  • Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics; Growth and Fluctuations
  • History of Economic Thought (to 1925)

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The paper has three objectives. First, it seeks to resuscitate a methodology of the history of economic thought that takes account of the problem-solving efforts of political economists rather than concentrating entirely on the putative advances in techniques of analysis, detaching them from their political and social context. Second, it seeks to establish the priority of two Italian savants in theorising some basic features of capitalist growth long before its prime movers had been conceptualised in the eighteenth century. Third, it puts colonialism and imperialism as the ever-present components of capitalist development on centre stage. Contextual political economy would be a study of the capitalist system as it has really operated, i.e. as a system characterised by enormous turbulence superimposed on growth, in which formal and informal colonialism and speculation have played major roles.

Keywords: Whig interpretation of history; Contextual political economy; Public credit; Trade; war and colonialism; Italian pioneers; Technical change; Free-wheeling finance; B12; B13; N13; O30

Journal Article.  10223 words. 

Subjects: Technological Change; Research and Development ; Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics; Growth and Fluctuations ; History of Economic Thought (to 1925)

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