The Origins of Capitalism and the "Rise of the West"

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Temple University Press, Aug 13, 2008 - Business & Economics - 256 pages
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In this study, Eric Mielants provides a novel interdisciplinary interpretation of the origins of modernity and capitalism in particular. He argues that contrary to popular thinking, the Rise of the West should not be analyzed in terms of the Industrial Revolution or the colonization of the New World, but viewed from long-term developments that occurred in the Middle Ages. A fascinating overview of different civilizations in East Asia, South Asia, and Northwestern Africa is provided and systematically compared and contrasted with Western Europe. This book addresses some of the major debates that have recently unfolded in world history, comparative sociology, political economy, sociological theory and historical sociology.  Mielants indicates how many existing theories (such as Marxism, World-Systems Theory and Smithian Modernization Theory) have suffered from either Eurocentric or limited temporal and spatial analyses, which prevents them from a complete understanding of why the origins of capitalism and citizenship emerged in Western Europe.

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Chapter One Perspectives on the Origins of Merchant Capitalism in Europe
Chapter Two The Political Economies of China and Europe Compared
Chapter Three The Political Economies of South Asia and Europe Compared
Chapter Four The Political Economies of Western Europe and Northern Africa Compared
Chapter Five Conclusion Was the WesternEuropean CityState in the Middle Ages a European Miracle?

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Page 2 - The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles. Freeman and slave, patrician and plebeian, lord and serf, guild-master and journeyman, in a word, oppressor and oppressed, stood in constant opposition to one another, carried on an uninterrupted, now hidden, now open fight, a fight that each time ended, either in a revolutionary reconstitution of society at large, or in the common ruin of the contending classes.
Page 2 - A new and international division of labor, a division suited to the requirements of the chief centers of modern industry springs up, and converts one part of the globe into a chiefly agricultural field of production for supplying the other part which remains a chiefly industrial field.

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About the author (2008)

Eric H. Mielants is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology, in the College of Arts and Sciences, at Fairfield University.

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