In this book, one of the world’s most renowned historians provides a concise and comprehensive history of capitalism within a global perspective from its medieval origins to the 2008 financial crisis and beyond. From early commercial capitalism in the Arab world, China, and Europe, to nineteenth- and twentieth-century industrialization, to today’s globalized financial capitalism, Jürgen Kocka offers an unmatched account of capitalism, one that weighs its great achievements against its great costs, crises, and failures. Based on intensive research, the book puts the rise of capitalist economies in social, political, and cultural context, and shows how their current problems and foreseeable future are connected to a long history.
Sweeping in scope, the book describes how capitalist expansion was connected to colonialism; how industrialism brought unprecedented innovation, growth, and prosperity but also increasing inequality; and how managerialism, financialization, and globalization later changed the face of capitalism. The book also addresses the idea of capitalism in the work of thinkers such as Marx, Weber, and Schumpeter, and chronicles how criticism of capitalism is as old as capitalism itself, fed by its persistent contradictions and recurrent emergencies.
Authoritative and accessible, Capitalism is an enlightening account of a force that has shaped the modern world like few others.
Jürgen Kocka is a permanent fellow at Humboldt University of Berlin and former president of the WZB Berlin Social Science Center. In 2011, he received the Holberg Prize, one of the most prestigious awards in the scholarly world.
"The dramatic collapse of state socialism, the revolutionary advance of once-stagnant economies, and, yes, recent financial crisis have all conspired to make capitalism an urgent topic of contemporary research. Jürgen Kocka has distilled his vast command of social history into a gem-like narrative of global capitalism that provides the long-term perspective needed for current debate."--Charles S. Maier, author of Leviathan 2.0: Inventing Modern Statehood
"Capitalism is a terrifically valuable book, distinguished by its breadth of learning, clarity, and concision. Its description and analysis are combined with a surety of judgment based on Kocka’s long contemplation of the subject."--Jerry Z. Muller, Catholic University of America
"Jürgen Kocka is one of the most distinguished European historians of his generation and his books are always significant events. This compact book has all of his virtues: it’s extremely clear and conceptually tight as well as very succinct."--Geoff Eley, University of Michigan
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