Social and economic trends
Title: Social and economic trends
Author: GRAFE, Regina
Citation: Hamish SCOTT (ed.), Oxford handbook of early modern European history, 1350-1750, Vol. I: Peoples and place, Oxford : Oxford University Press, 2015, pp. 269-294
This chapter traces major trends in economic and social history during recent decades. Grand narratives of a transition from feudalism to capitalism that described early modern societies as stagnant and prone to Malthusian crises have given way to analyses of episodic dynamism and social transformations. Expansion in the late fifteenth and sixteenth centuries turned into stagnation or contraction in the seventeenth and renewed expansion in the eighteenth century. Yet, despite the common trend, regional divergence between southern and eastern Europe on the one hand and northwestern Europe on the other increased over time. In explaining this variance attention has shifted towards a new culture of consumption and diverse productive formations to explain why people became more ‘industrious’, and why households consumed more varied and sometimes exotic products. These processes began in the northwestern Europe but slowly extended elsewhere.
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