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Title: Say and Sismondi on the political economy of post-revolutionary Europe, c. 1800-1842
Author: Hopkins, T.
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2011
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Taking as its focal point the debate conducted in the 1810s and 1820s between Jean-Baptiste Say and Jean-Charles-Léonard Simonde de Sismondi around the question of whether production was limited by the extent of consumption, this thesis is intended to contextualize the works of the two pre-eminent Francophone political economists of the post-revolutionary period. In his Traité d’économie politique, first published in 1803, Say advanced the idea that the expansion of productive output was itself the surest means of guaranteeing an expanded market, an argument that appeared to rule out the possibility of a general glut in the market. Sismondi’s Nouveaux principes d’économie politique, published in 1819 in response to Say and those, such as David Ricardo, who had subsequently adopted a similar position, argued that the indefinite advance of productivity Say promised would be checked by society’s real capacity for consumption, itself determined not by productivity per se, but by the distribution of income. This was, both emphasised, a critical point on which to diverge, with far-reaching implications for thinking about the politics of post-revolutionary social relations, and the politics of international trade. Sismondi’s critique of Say has often been described as a reaction to the slump in manufacturing that struck Europe in the years after 1815. The spectre of mass immiseration this produced, it has been suggested, prompted him to demand a greater role for government in the economy. However, a broader critical study of Say and Sismondi’s works, including unpublished manuscript sources, reveals that the roots of their disagreement can be traced rather further back to the differing perspectives on republican government that the French Say and the Genevan Sismondi adopted in the wake of the Revolution and the advent of Napoleon.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available