Markets in Economics and History
Traditionally, both in economics and in economic history, markets and market economies (economies that exchange and allocate most of the land, labour, capital, and output through the market) are associated with modernity, economic growth, and freedom. At first sight, recent economic historical research seems to endorse the link between these elements, even though it pushes the start of this process further back in time than assumed earlier, that is, to Western Europe in the late Middle Ages. This chapter shows that a closer look at the results of recent research causes us to reconsider this link. It also develops and presents a new analytical framework for investigating the rise and decline of market economies. This framework focuses on the interaction between the institutional organization of markets, economic development, and the socio-political context in which markets develop, more particularly the social distribution of wealth and political leverage.
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