The European Miracle

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The European Miracle: Environments, Economies and Geopolitics in the History of Europe and Asia
Author Eric Jones
Country Australia
Language English
Genre history, economic theory
Publisher Cambridge University Press
Publication date
1981
Media type Hardback
Followed by 'Growth Recurring: Economic Change and World History'

The European Miracle: Environments, Economies and Geopolitics in the History of Europe and Asia is a book written by Eric Jones in 1981 to refer to the sudden rise of Europe during the late Middle Ages. Ahead of the Islamic and Chinese civilizations, Europe steadily rose since the Early Modern period to a complete domination of world trade and politics that remained unchallenged until the early 20th century.

This process started with the first European contacts and subsequent colonization of great expanses of the world. The industrial revolution further reinforced it.

Jones's book gave rise to the term European miracle. It is closely related to the idea of the Great divergence, which rather than on the origins of the rise of Europe during the Renaissance focuses on the culmination of the process in the 18th century and the subsequent "imperial century" of Britain.

Argument[edit]

Jones aims at providing an answer to the question of "Why did modern states and economies develop first in the peripheral and late-coming culture of Europe?" Jones attempts to argue a concatenation of various factors, in particular the interplay of natural and economic factors which have worked to Europe's advantage and to the disadvantage of its Asian competitors.

Jones's theories can be seen[who?] as building on the work of earlier thinkers such as Max Weber, Immanuel Wallerstein, G. W. F. Hegel, Adam Smith, and Karl Marx. Weber's idea of the Protestant work ethic and Hegel's Spirit were certainly influential.[citation needed] Wallerstein's idea of a world-economy and world-system originating in Europe also comes through in European miracle theory.

The idea of a unique European family structure is also a central tenet of the European miracle theory.[citation needed] Purportedly, the European family was nuclear, women married late, and had few children. Europe understood how to control their population while the rest of the world, to quote Jones, "multiplied insensately" (adapting a phrase of H. G. Wells).[1] This meant that Europe was not vulnerable to Malthusian Crises and therefore able to form a progressive, capitalist society.

Urbanization is also adduced as a factor. Crucially, these cities were also semi-autonomous, especially the Italian city-states. The growth of banking, accounting and general financial infrastructure in such cities is seen as unique and vital to the rise of Europe.

Reception[edit]

Jones's 1981 study is one of the most influential books dedicated to the question of European exceptionalism. Some historians, in particular of the "California school" have felt that Jones has over-stated the degree of difference between Europe and non-European regions on the eve of the Industrial Revolution.[citation needed]

The attention attracted by the book has also resulted in it being described by American historian Joel Mokyr as "the whipping boy of those who have resented what they viewed as historiographical triumphalism, eurocentricity, and even racism."[2] It has been attacked by thinkers such as James Blaut, Andre Gunder Frank, Kenneth Pomeranz, and John M. Hobson. They accuse Jones of Eurocentrism and "cultural racism" (Blaut's term[3])

See also[edit]

Editions[edit]

  • Jones, Eric (1981). The European Miracle: Environments, Economies and Geopolitics in the History of Europe and Asia. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-52783-X. 
  • Jones, Eric (1987). The European Miracle: Environments, Economies and Geopolitics in the History of Europe and Asia. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-33670-3. 
  • Jones, Eric (2003). The European Miracle: Environments, Economies and Geopolitics in the History of Europe and Asia. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-52783-5. 

References[edit]

  1. ^ The European Miracle: Environments, Economies and Geopolitics in the History of Europe and Asia, 2nd Edirion, Cambridge UP, p.6
  2. ^ Mokyr, Joel (2002). "The Enduring Riddle of the European Miracle". Retrieved October 27, 2011. 
  3. ^ Blaut, James Morris (1993), The colonizer's model of the world: geographical diffusionism and Eurocentric history, New York, NY: The Guilford Press, p. 64 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]