IAS 45: The Great Transformation

"Political Economy" is that bloody crossroads where economics, politics, history, and culture meet. Economics deals with the production and distribution of wealth. Politics deals with how we decide what our collective purposes are and implement them, or how we oppress each other. History is the record of what people have done and suffered, and tells us what sets of politico-economic arrangements have succeeded and failed in the past. And culture determines both what kinds of things people think are worth doing--what they value--and also what will be the modalities of human interaction on top of which politics and economics are built.

How are we to think about issues of "political economy" in the context of modern industrial societies--or, rather, in the context of modern societies, for almost every society today is industrial or post-industrial? This course bets that an examination of the history of human societies across the divide of the great transformation--the industrial revolution, the democratic revolution, and the rise and spread of modern global secular literate culture--provides the best road to thinking about such issues.