Fall/Winter Timetable

POL443H1S L0201

Graduate Course Code: POL2322H1S L0201

Topics in Comparative Politics II

State and Development in Historical Perspective


What is the state’s role in economic development? What caused the industrial revolution, and why was Britain at its forefront? These questions have preoccupied social scientists and political practitioners alike since the nineteenth century, and the profusion of empirical economic history research over the past two decades suggests that scholarly consensus remains as elusive as ever. Much of this literature takes an institutional approach, attributing Europe’s economic precocity to “good” political institutions such as secure property rights. Although this argument has a distinguished pedigree, its assumptions are increasingly at odds with the findings of recent historical scholarship on early modern Europe. We will work together to bridge this gap, contrasting the work of historians, political scientists, and economists on the causes of European economic growth, and devoting particular attention to the role of the state in each. Although we will concentrate on the institutional approach and its critics, we will also examine other explanations for European distinctiveness, including geography, class structure, demographics, culture, and ideas.

Format and Requirements

One two-hour seminar per week. Course requirements TBA.