Mendels F. (1972) Proto-industry: the first phase of industrialisation

October 28, 2007

Mendels Franklin F. (1972) “Proto-industrialization: The First Phase of the Industrialization Process”, The Journal of Economic History, 32/1, The Tasks of Economic History, 241-261.

Definition of the concept

Proto-industrialisation: “the rapid growth of traditionally organised but market-oriented, principally rural industry. It was also accompanied by changes in the spatial organisation of the rural economy” (241). The pattern of European agricultural production, created a massive but short-lived, seasonal demand for labour during the harvest. Journeymen were underemployed during the year, they were an available workforce for the labour-intensive textile industry which needed a lot of workers as its productivity had hardly increased since the 12th century (242). Read the rest of this entry »

Nakamura J.I. (1981) Human capital in rural Tokugawa Japan

October 21, 2007

Nakamura J. I. (1981) “Human Capital Accumulation in Premodern Rural Japan”, The Journal of Economic History, 41/2, 263-281.


Human capital has not always been recognized as a crucial source of historical change. Capital accumulation and technology have often been seen as more important. The development of post-WWII Japan has reminded to all that physical factors were not the only source of growth. A rather similar story happened under Meiji. The impressive and unexpected economic development of the post-1868 period was rooted in the accumulation of human resources under the Tokugawas (264). The market economy introduced by Meiji was to be the base of Japan’s economic strength, but it could not have developed so fast without the structural and cultural foundations set up under the Tokugawa and earlier. “Human capital may be broadly identified as labour skills, managerial skills, and entrepreneurial and innovative abilities – plus such physical attributes as health and strength”. Read the rest of this entry »

Le Goff J. (1986) Usury, religion and the birth of capitalism in the Middle Ages

October 14, 2007

Jacques Le Goff (1986) La Bourse et la vie. Economie et religion au Moyen Age, Paris, Hachette, 150p.*


After the council of Lateran IV (1215) confessions became private and regular instead of rare and collective. The individual became responsible of his own sins instead of assuming his share of the sins of the whole society. Pawnbrokers are thus suddenly singled out by the church as symbol of cupidity at a time when the central quality put forward by the Church was poverty. Read the rest of this entry »