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Capitalism is central to our understanding of contemporary economic and political life and yet what does it really mean? If, as has now been shown to be the case, capital and property rights existed in pre-modern and pre-capitalist societies, what is left of our understanding of capitalism? Steven G. Marks' provocative new book calls into question everything we thought we knew about capitalism, from the word's very origins and development to the drivers of Western economic growth. Ranging from the Middle Ages to the present, The Information Nexus reveals that the truly distinctive feature of capitalism is business's drive to acquire and analyze information, supported by governments that allow unfettered access to public data. This new interpretation of capitalism helps to explain the rise of the West, puts our current information age into historical perspective, and provides a benchmark for the comparative assessment of economic systems in today's globalized environment.Read more
- Transforms our understanding of capitalism by emphasizing information acquisition and new informational tools as its major feature
- Reveals what makes capitalism distinctive from other economic systems past and present
- Sheds new light on major debates, such as the reasons for the 'great divergence' between the West and the rest, and whether the contemporary Chinese economy can be considered capitalist
Reviews & endorsements
"Steven Marks has written the best - and certainly the most compelling - single study of the historical origins of modern capitalism. This terrific book demolishes many hard-held beliefs and ideologies about capitalism, for instance that it is based on control of capital! Marks makes a skilful case that the way we organize and share information is central to the way we behave in politics but also in the economy."
Harold James, author of Family Capitalism and Making the European Monetary UnionSee more reviews
"Using public information to reinforce and validate traditional ties of personal trust within a business community creates an information nexus, which Steven Marks argues is at the heart of modern capitalism and continues to be so. Everyone who thinks they know what capitalism is today, how it came to be, and where it is headed, has a lot to learn and think about after reading this book."
Larry Neal, author of A Concise History of International Finance and co-editor of The Cambridge History of Capitalism
"In stressing the importance of collecting, processing, exchanging and utilizing information for the rise and the working of capitalism, The Information Nexus breaks new ground. It is original and very readable, presenting well-known facts in a new light. Steve Marks's distinctive take on capitalism neatly fits our present-day experiences and the problems of the digital age. It deserves a broad audience."
Jürgen Kocka, author of Capitalism: A Short History
‘In this disruptive study, Clemson University historian Steven G. Marks redefines capitalism by breathing new life into concepts recycled from nineteenth-century German sociology. … The Information Nexus is a remarkable study, not only for the power of its message, but also for the clarity of its prose and for the vast field of research compressed into its 250 pages. … Steven G. Mark’s study of the role of information flows in the creation of this capitalist Gesellschaft definitely merits a place on history bookshelves, whether real or virtual.' Leonard Dudley, EH.Net
'The 20th century ushered in the 'information age,' and Marks presents the historical origins and globalization of capitalism. … Marks does an excellent job of showing the importance and history of linking information to capitalism over seven centuries. … Summing Up: Recommended. Upper-division undergraduates through faculty.' R. T. Sweet, Choice
'The Information Nexus is a remarkable achievement, strongly and clearly argued' Business History Review
'… very valuable and quite a lucid and pleasurable read, accessible to non-academic, educated laypersons, and much recommended for any scholar or student of economic history.' Jonathan Barth, Journal of World History
'If we agree that the duty of historians is to examine the past out of a commitment to the present and the future of the societies in which they live, then The Information Nexus clearly fulfills this duty and as such, can be seen as a timely and well-deserved contribution to the economic history bookshelf.' Amir Lavie, The Prospectus
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- Date Published: October 2016
- format: Hardback
- isbn: 9781107108684
- length: 262 pages
- dimensions: 235 x 156 x 18 mm
- weight: 0.49kg
- availability: In stock
Table of Contents
Part I. 'Capitalism', Word and Concept:
1. Cries of pain: the word 'capitalism'
2. 'Capitalism' in the mirror of the twentieth century
3. The myths of capitalism
Part II. The Information Nexus:
4. Early modern Europe's expanding field of vision: the origins of capitalism
5. Age of electricity and engines: America's mass market
6. The digital age and the globalization of capitalism
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