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A Culture of Growth: The Origins of the Modern Economy
— —
Joel Mokyr
A Culture of Growth: The Origins of the Modern Economy by Joel Mokyr at Abbey's Bookshop,

A Culture of Growth: The Origins of the Modern Economy

Joel Mokyr


9780691180960

Princeton University Pres


European history;
Business & Economics;
Development economics;
Economic history


Paperback

400 pages

$49.99
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Why Enlightenment culture sparked the Industrial Revolution During the late eighteenth century, innovations in Europe triggered the Industrial Revolution and the sustained economic progress that spread across the globe. While much has been made of the details of the Industrial Revolution, what remains a mystery is why it took place at all. Why did this revolution begin in the West and not elsewhere, and why did it continue, leading to today's unprecedented prosperity? In this groundbreaking book, celebrated economic historian Joel Mokyr argues that a culture of growth specific to early modern Europe and the European Enlightenment laid the foundations for the scientific advances and pioneering inventions that would instigate explosive technological and economic development. Bringing together economics, the history of science and technology, and models of cultural evolution, Mokyr demonstrates that culture--the beliefs, values, and preferences in society that are capable of changing behavior--was a deciding factor in societal transformations.

Mokyr looks at the period 1500-1700 to show that a politically fragmented Europe fostered a competitive market for ideas and a willingness to investigate the secrets of nature. At the same time, a transnational community of brilliant thinkers known as the Republic of Letters freely circulated and distributed ideas and writings. This political fragmentation and the supportive intellectual environment explain how the Industrial Revolution happened in Europe but not China, despite similar levels of technology and intellectual activity. In Europe, heterodox and creative thinkers could find sanctuary in other countries and spread their thinking across borders. In contrast, China's version of the Enlightenment remained controlled by the ruling elite.

Combining ideas from economics and cultural evolution, A Culture of Growth provides startling reasons for why the foundations of our modern economy were laid in the mere two centuries between Columbus and Newton.

By:   Joel Mokyr
Imprint:   Princeton University Pres
Country of Publication:   United States
Dimensions:   Height: 203mm,  Width: 133mm, 
ISBN:   9780691180960
ISBN 10:   0691180962
Pages:   400
Publication Date:   June 2018
Audience:   General/trade ,  College/higher education ,  ELT Advanced ,  Primary
Format:   Paperback
Publisher's Status:   Unspecified

Acknowledgments ixPreface xiiiPart I: Evolution, Culture, and Economic HistoryChapter 1: Culture and Economics 3Chapter 2: Nature and Technology 16Chapter 3: Cultural Evolution and Economics 22Chapter 4: Choice-based Cultural Evolution 34Chapter 5: Biases in Cultural Evolution 43Part II: Cultural Entrepreneurs and Economic Change, 1500-1700Chapter 6: Cultural Entrepreneurs and Choice-based Cultural Evolution 59Chapter 7: Francis Bacon, Cultural Entrepreneur 70Chapter 8: Isaac Newton, Cultural Entrepreneur 99Part III: Innovation, Competition, and Pluralism in Europe, 1500-1700Chapter 9: Cultural Choice in Action: Human Capital and Religion 119Chapter 10: Cultural Change and the Growth of Useful Knowledge, 1500-1700 142Chapter 11: Fragmentation, Competition, and Cultural Change 165Chapter 12: Competition and the Republic of Letters 179Part IV: Prelude to the EnlightenmentChapter 13: Puritanism and British Exceptionalism 227Chapter 14: A Culture of Progress 247Chapter 15: The Enlightenment and Economic Change 267Part V: Cultural Change in the East and WestChapter 16: China and Europe 287Chapter 17: China and the Enlightenment 321Epilogue: Useful Knowledge and Economic Growth 339References 343Index 381

[back cover bio]Joel Mokyr is the Robert H. Strotz Professor of Arts and Sciences and professor of economics and history at Northwestern University and Sackler Professor at the Eitan Berglas School of Economics at the University of Tel Aviv. Joel Mokyr is the Robert H. Strotz Professor of Arts and Sciences and professor of economics and history at Northwestern University and Sackler Professor at the Eitan Berglas School of Economics at the University of Tel Aviv. His many books include The Enlightened Economy and The Gifts of Athena (Princeton). He is the recipient of the Heineken Prize for History and the International Balzan Prize for Economic History.


The book represents recognition that culture has finally arrived as an important and legitimate concept in discussions of economic growth. In this endeavor, the book is an important landmark. . . . Students and scholars working in the field will benefit from the intelligent and rich discussion provided in A Culture of Growth.---Mark Koyama, The Independent Review This is a tour d'horizon of an exciting new area of inquiry, which offers important insights into the future of our civilization and the evolution of an increasingly technical world. Mokyr's book is so rich and stimulating that no brief review can do it justice. So, dear reader, read the book!---Wolfgang Kasper, Policy A fresh historical treatment.---Darcy Allen, IPA Review Wide-ranging and erudite.... Mokyr offers a useful corrective to excessively deterministic and materialistic treatments of economic history.---Nicholas Crafts, History Today This book is the latest example of Mokyr's ability to explicate complex issues, illustrating his big-picture thesis with a myriad of fascinating details. He writes with clarity--enjoyable for the general reader as well as for the specialist in economic history.A Culture of Growthis a must-read for anyone interested in how Western society got where it is today and what this implies for the spread of technology in the global economy of the future. --Uday Balakrishnan, Hindu Business Line This book is the latest example of Mokyr's ability to explicate complex issues, illustrating his big-picture thesis with a myriad of fascinating details. He writes with clarity--enjoyable for the general reader as well as for the specialist in economic history.A Culture of Growthis a must-read for anyone interested in how Western society got where it is today and what this implies for the spread of technology in the global economy of the future.---Uday Balakrishnan, Hindu Business Line Economic historian Joel Mokyr has written a capstone work on the dynamics of the industrial revolution.---Ted Nield, Geoscientist Online Someone needed to write a book like this, and there could have been no better author to do so than Mokyr.---Peer Vries, Foreign Affairs Ultimately, without the impetus of science, economic growth would have fizzled out after 1815.A Culture of Growthis certainly making me rethink. --Alan Ryan, Literary Review Ultimately, without the impetus of science, economic growth would have fizzled out after 1815.A Culture of Growthis certainly making me rethink.---Alan Ryan, Literary Review Mokyr . . . dives into the mystery of how the world went from being poor to being so rich in just a few centuries. . . . Drawing on centuries of philosophy and scientific advancements, Mokyr argues that there's a reason the Industrial Revolution occurred in Europe and not, for example, in China, which had in previous centuries shown signs of more scientific advancement: Europe developed a unique culture of competitive scientific and intellectual advancement that was unprecedented and not at all predestined.---Ana Swanson, WashingtonPost.com's, Wonkblog What stands out from Mokyr's approach is the highly contingent character of the Enlightenment and Industrial Revolution. They happened because a lot of different things happened to fall into place; small deviations in the course of events could have given us an entirely different world of technological and economic power.---Brad DeLong, Nature In pointing to growth-boosting factors that go beyond either the state or the market, Mokyr's book is very welcome.---Victoria Bateman, Times Higher Education InA Culture of Growth, Joel Mokyr explores in detail the interactions among groups of educated people that led to the creation of specific innovative ideas important in the Industrial Revolution. Mokyr's historical laboratory is early modern Europe but his methods and findings seem to me equally useful in thinking about the prospects for a variety of contemporary economies the world over.---Deirdre McCloskey, author of, Bourgeois Equality A fine book.... One of our country's great economic historians has helped us better understand the greatest transformation in human welfare our planet has ever seen.---Richard Vedder, Wall Street Journal Finalist for the 2017 Hayek Prize, The Manhattan Institute Honorable Mention for the 2017 PROSE Award in European and World History, Association of American Publishers One of MIT Technology Review's Best Books of 2016 More praise forA Culture of Growth---Adam Gopnik, New Yorker One of MIT Technology Review's Best Books of 2016 Honorable Mention for the 2017 PROSE Award in European and World History, Association of American Publishers The book represents recognition that culture has finally arrived as an important and legitimate concept in discussions of economic growth. In this endeavor, the book is an important landmark. . . . Students and scholars working in the field will benefit from the intelligent and rich discussion provided in A Culture of Growth. --Mark Koyama, The Independent Review This is a tour d'horizon of an exciting new area of inquiry, which offers important insights into the future of our civilization and the evolution of an increasingly technical world. Mokyr's book is so rich and stimulating that no brief review can do it justice. So, dear reader, read the book! --Wolfgang Kasper, Policy Wide-ranging and erudite.... Mokyr offers a useful corrective to excessively deterministic and materialistic treatments of economic history. --Nicholas Crafts, History Today A Culture of Growthis a book of immense importance for us Indians especially when we are getting comfortable, forever playing victim to the depredations of British imperialism instead of wholeheartedly focusing on beating the West at its game as the Chinese are doing.... Well worth tackling. --Progressive Post It is not often that a book leaves me gasping in admiration for the breadth and depth of an author's reading and knowledge, but this one did. --Finance & Development Economic historian Joel Mokyr has written a capstone work on the dynamics of the industrial revolution. --Ted Nield, Geoscientist Online The sheer elegance of Mr. Mokyr's theory ... has much to commend it. And it is refreshing that an economist is taking seriously the idea that ideas and culture make a difference to economic growth. --The Economist What stands out from Mokyr's approach is the highly contingent character of the Enlightenment and Industrial Revolution. They happened because a lot of different things happened to fall into place; small deviations in the course of events could have given us an entirely different world of technological and economic power. --Brad DeLong, Nature InA Culture of Growth, Joel Mokyr explores in detail the interactions among groups of educated people that led to the creation of specific innovative ideas important in the Industrial Revolution. Mokyr's historical laboratory is early modern Europe but his methods and findings seem to me equally useful in thinking about the prospects for a variety of contemporary economies the world over. --Deirdre McCloskey, author ofBourgeois Equality [Mokyr] is a wonderfully well-read lucid and continuously interesting guide to a vast literature and invariably thought provoking. --Publishers Weekly A fine book.... One of our country's great economic historians has helped us better understand the greatest transformation in human welfare our planet has ever seen. --Richard Vedder, Wall Street Journal More praise forA Culture of Growth--Adam Gopnik, New Yorker A fresh historical treatment. --Darcy Allen, IPA Review Someone needed to write a book like this, and there could have been no better author to do so than Mokyr. --Peer Vries, Foreign Affairs Mokyr . . . dives into the mystery of how the world went from being poor to being so rich in just a few centuries. . . . Drawing on centuries of philosophy and scientific advancements, Mokyr argues that there's a reason the Industrial Revolution occurred in Europe and not, for example, in China, which had in previous centuries shown signs of more scientific advancement: Europe developed a unique culture of competitive scientific and intellectual advancement that was unprecedented and not at all predestined. --Ana Swanson, WashingtonPost.com's Wonkblog In pointing to growth-boosting factors that go beyond either the state or the market, Mokyr's book is very welcome. --Victoria Bateman, Times Higher Education


  • Commended for 2017 Hayek Prize, The Manhattan Institute 2017
  • Commended for 2017 PROSE Award in European and World History, Association of American Publishers 2017
  • Short-listed for MIT Technology Review' s Best Books of 2016 2016
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