Economic Sociology of Capitalist Development
Edited by Yuichi Shionoya and Tamotsu Nishizawa
Chapter 7: Alfred Marshall and the Historico-Ethical Approach
Tamotsu Nishizawa 7.1 THE AGE OF ETHICO-HISTORICISM, OR THE AGE OF SOCIAL REFORM From 1870 to 1914 (and Later) Around 1870, a new interest in social reform, a new spirit of ‘historicism’ and new activity in the ﬁeld of economic ‘theory’ began to assert themselves (Schumpeter, 1954: 753). During this period, through ‘revolutions’ and heated discussions, the neoclassical economics based on marginal utility theory and, later, general equilibrium theory were formed and developed, and the ﬁeld of economics as such was professionalized and institutionalized. At the same time, the ideas of the German historical school, or the historico-ethical school, and the social policy school were also formed, developed and disseminated internationally, in the course of which economic sociology and institutionalism were conceived and elaborated. This development of the historico-ethical and social policy schools was much stronger in backward countries (latecomers) such as Germany, America and Japan. It seems that Marshall and the Cambridge school have been largely discussed in context of the neoclassical economics, but not in context of the historico-ethical and social policy schools. I aim to discuss Marshall against the background of the historico-ethical age or the age of social reform. Indeed it was historicism, not marginal theory, that was more in accordance with the general trend of thought from J.S. Mill’s death in 1873 to the appearance of Marshall’s Principles in 1890, and it was the historical school rather than marginal utility theory that set its mark on the Principles (Maloney, 1987: 147–9; Shove, 1942: 309)...
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