Cameralism

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For single-chamber legislatures, see unicameralism. For two-chamber legislatures, see bicameralism. For three-chamber legislatures, see tricameralism.

Cameralism (German: Kameralwissenschaft) was a German science and technology of administration in the 18th and early 19th centuries. The discipline in its most narrow definition concerned the management of the state's finances. According to David F. Lindenfeld, it was divided into three: public finance, Oeconomie and Polizei. Here Oeconomie did not mean exactly 'economics', nor Polizei 'public policy' in the modern senses.[1]

Cameralism as a science[edit]

Cameralism as a science is closely connected with the development of bureaucracy in the early modern period as it was a method aimed at increasing the efficiency of cameralists – not only referring to the academics devoted to the science but to those employed in the Kammer, the state administration.[2] Furthermore, cameralism was associated with the early modern term oeconomics, which had a broader meaning than the modern term economics as it entailed the stewardship of households, both public, private and by extension the state itself. Thus, oeconomics was a broader domain: "...in which the investigation of nature merged seamlessly with concerns for material and moral well-being, in which the inter-dependence of urban and rural productivity was appreciated and stewarded, in which ‘improvement’ was simultaneously directed toward increasing the yields of agriculture, manufacturing and social responsibility." [3] This further shaped cameralism as a wide discipline aimed at creating an overview of knowledge needed by an enlightened administrator. It also illustrates that practicioners of cameralism were a heterogneous group that not only served the interest of the state but also that of the growing cadres of academics, scientists and technological experts striving for the favour of the state in order to further their own interests as well as being oeconomic patriots.[4][5][6] There are some similarities between cameralism as an oeconomic theory and the (French) Mercantilist school of Jean-Baptiste Colbert, which has sometimes caused cameralism to be viewed as a German version of mercantilism, as they both emphasised import substitution and a strong state directing oeconomic life.[7] However, cameralism was developed with regards to the landlocked nature of many of the German states of the 18th century and attempted to substitute the whole production process, whereas Mercantilism relied on access to raw materials and goods from the colonial periphery.[8] Furthermore, defining cameralism as an early modern school of economy does not accurately portray the scope of the body of knowledge included in cameralism.[9] Throughout the 18th and the first half of the 19th century cameralist science was influential in Northern European states, for example Prussia and Sweden, and its academics and practitioners were pioneers in oeconomic, environmental and administrative knowledge and technology, for example cameralistic accounting, still used in public finance today.[10][11]

Cameralism in Prussia[edit]

The first academic chairs in the cameral sciences were created at the Prussian Universities of Halle and Frankfurt an der Oder in 1727 by Frederick William I as he perceived a need for greater administrative skill in the growing Prussian bureaucracy.[4] Cameralist teachings departed from the traditional legal and experience based education usually given to civil servants and focused on a broad overview of classical philosophy, natural sciences and oeconomic practices such as husbandry, farming, mining and accounting.[12] However, provision of a cameralist education was also directed towards the gentry as a way to instil values of thrift and prudence among landowners, thus increasing incomes from their estates.[13] Prussian cameralism was focused on the state, enhancing its efficiency and increasing its revenue through strengthening the power of the developing bureaucracy, by means of standardisation of both the bureaucracy’s own practices as well as the economy, enabling greater extraction of wealth.[14] There is, however, considerable debate about whether cameralist policy reflected the stated goals of academic cameralism.

Cameralism in Sweden[edit]

Cameralism gained traction in Sweden after the country had lost most of its possessions in Pomerania and the Baltic region after its defeat in the Great Northern War.[15] The Swedish example shows how cameralism, as a part of the early modern concept of oeconomy, gave rise to a wide range of activity today associated with public and social policy. Around the highly developed Swedish bureaucracy coalesced a structure of entrepreneurs, educators and scientists that strove to mobilise the resources of the country for the betterment of the population and strengthening of the state.[16] Cameralism in this sense fostered a cadre of naturalists and administrators serving as experts engaging in oeconomic activity, that were not necessarily administrative officials, although, associated with the state and utilising the well developed administration.[17] In Sweden, this is exemplified by the botanist Carl Linnaeus and his pupils, who were prominent advocates of cameralism and strove both to cultivate foreign cash crops such as tea and the Mulberry tree, on which's leafs the silk worm feeds, and to find domestic substitute for imports such as coffee, projects that even though they were failures entrenched the role of the scientist and the expert as a useful instrument of state interests.[17]

Academic Status[edit]

During the 18th century Cameralism spread through the lands of Prussia, the Holy Roman Empire and beyond. Professorial chairs in Cameralism were also created in Sweden and Norway-Denmark.[18][19] Foremost among the professors in cameralism was Johann Heinrich Gottlob Justi (1717-1771), who linked cameralism and the idea of natural law with each other. However, most cameralists were practitioners, not academics and worked in the burgeoning bureaucracies sometimes supporting and other time shunning the science.[20] Whether Cameralism was a technology that was applied to the different branches of the state and the oeconomy decisively shaping it or whether it was a university science has been a major debate in modern research of Cameralism. Much debate has traditionally centered on exactly which writing classifies as cameralism.[21] However, the work of Keith Tribe, who holds cameralism to be a university science disconnected from the actual activities of the administrators, sparked a counter-reaction and shifted the debate to include the practicioners of cameralism.[22][23] The shift is evident in the work of David Lindenfeld and Andre Wakefield, which illustrates the dynamics between theory and practice among cameralists.[4][24] Although, the exact legacy and nature of cameralism remains disputed it has had an impact on modern public finance, not only by shaping the formation of the state administration but also by giving rise to cameralistic accounting a particular system predominately used in the German public sector which has outlived the rest of the science. The system has been deemed suitable for bookeeping under conditions posed by public enterprises or services, such as construcuting and maintaining infrastructure, providing healthcare or education. As these services if paid for, rather constitute a form of indirect taxation rather than a transaction on an open market.[25]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Lindenfeld (1997), p. 18-19.
  2. ^ Wakefield, Andre (2005-05-01). "Books, Bureaus, and the Historiography of Cameralism". European Journal of Law and Economics. 19 (3): 310–312, 318–319. doi:10.1007/s10657-005-6640-z. ISSN 0929-1261. 
  3. ^ Roberts, Lissa (2014-07-03). "Practicing oeconomy during the second half of the long eighteenth century: an introduction". History and Technology. 30 (3): 134. doi:10.1080/07341512.2014.988423. ISSN 0734-1512. 
  4. ^ a b c Wakefield, Andre (2005-05-01). "Books, Bureaus, and the Historiography of Cameralism". European Journal of Law and Economics. 19 (3): 311–320. doi:10.1007/s10657-005-6640-z. ISSN 0929-1261. 
  5. ^ Roberts, Lissa (2014-07-03). "Practicing oeconomy during the second half of the long eighteenth century: an introduction". History and Technology. 30 (3): 138. doi:10.1080/07341512.2014.988423. ISSN 0734-1512. 
  6. ^ Jonsson, Fredrik Albritton (2010-12-01). "Rival Ecologies of Global Commerce: Adam Smith and the Natural Historians". The American Historical Review. 115 (5): 1342–1363. doi:10.1086/ahr.115.5.1342. ISSN 0002-8762. 
  7. ^ Lindenfeld (1997), p. 12-13.
  8. ^ Koerner, Lisbet (1994-07-01). "Linnaeus' Floral Transplants". Representations. 47: 147. doi:10.2307/2928789. ISSN 0734-6018. 
  9. ^ Tribe, Keith (1995). Strategies of Economic Order. Cambridge University Press. pp. 10–11. ISBN 0521462916. 
  10. ^ Koerner, Lisbet (1999). Linnaeus: Nature and Nation. Harvard University Press. ISBN 9780674005655. 
  11. ^ Monsen, Norvald (2002-02-01). "The Case for Cameral Accounting". Financial Accountability & Management. 18 (1): 39–72. doi:10.1111/1468-0408.00145. ISSN 1468-0408. 
  12. ^ Lindenfeld (1997), pp. 15-20, 22-23, 25.
  13. ^ Lindenfeld (1997), pp. 16-17.
  14. ^ Wakefield, Andre (2005-05-01). "Books, Bureaus, and the Historiography of Cameralism". European Journal of Law and Economics. 19 (3): 318. doi:10.1007/s10657-005-6640-z. ISSN 0929-1261. 
  15. ^ Koerner, Lisbet (1994-07-01). "Linnaeus' Floral Transplants". Representations. 47: 147–148. doi:10.2307/2928789. ISSN 0734-6018. 
  16. ^ Jonsson, Fredrik Albritton (2010-12-01). "Rival Ecologies of Global Commerce: Adam Smith and the Natural Historians". The American Historical Review. 115 (5): 1346–1347. doi:10.1086/ahr.115.5.1342. ISSN 0002-8762. 
  17. ^ a b Koerner, Lisbet (1994-07-01). "Linnaeus' Floral Transplants". Representations. 47: 144–169. doi:10.2307/2928789. ISSN 0734-6018. 
  18. ^ Monsen, Norvald (2002-02-01). "The Case for Cameral Accounting". Financial Accountability & Management. 18 (1): 1–2. doi:10.1111/1468-0408.00145. ISSN 1468-0408. 
  19. ^ Lindenfeld, David (1997). The Practical Imagination: The German Sciences of State in the 19th Century. Chicago University Press. pp. 22–25. ISBN 0-226-48241-3. 
  20. ^ Wakefield, Andre (2005). "Books, Bureaus and the Historiography of Cameralism". European Journal of Law and Economics (19). 
  21. ^ Wakefield, Andre (2005-05-01). "Books, Bureaus, and the Historiography of Cameralism". European Journal of Law and Economics. 19 (3): 313–316. doi:10.1007/s10657-005-6640-z. ISSN 0929-1261. 
  22. ^ Tribe, Keith (1995). Strategies of Economic Order. Cambridge University Press. pp. 9–31. ISBN 0521462916. 
  23. ^ Wakefield, Andre (2005-05-01). "Books, Bureaus, and the Historiography of Cameralism". European Journal of Law and Economics. 19 (3): 316–317. doi:10.1007/s10657-005-6640-z. ISSN 0929-1261. 
  24. ^ Lindenfeld, David (1997). The Practical Imagination: The German Sciences of State in the Nineteenth Century. Chicago University Press. 
  25. ^ Monsen, Norvald (2002-02-01). "The Case for Cameral Accounting". Financial Accountability & Management. 18 (1): 47–49. doi:10.1111/1468-0408.00145. ISSN 1468-0408. 

References[edit]

  • Lindenfeld, David (1997). The Practical Imagination: German Science of State in the 19th Century. Chicago University Press. ISBN 0-226-48241-3. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Albion Small (1909), The Cameralists. The Pioneers of German Social Policy, Chicago: The University of Chicago
  • Andre Wakefield (2009), The Disordered Police State: German Cameralism as Science and Practice
  • J. Christiaens & J. Rommel, 2006. "Governmental Accounting Reforms: Going Back Where We Belong?," Working Papers of Faculty of Economics and Business Administration, Ghent University, Belgium 06/398, Ghent University, Faculty of Economics and Business Administration.

External links[edit]

  • The dictionary definition of cameralism at Wiktionary