How the economic advances of one city can slow the economic growth of a region
The Undevelopment of Capitalism
Sectors and Markets in Fifteenth-Century Tuscany
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Rebecca Jean Emigh
In The Undevelopment of Capitalism, Rebecca Jean Emigh argues that the expansion of the Florentine economic market in the fifteenth century helped to undo the development of markets in rural Tuscany, leading to the overall contraction of the urban and rural economy. As this highly developed urban market penetrated rural regions, it actually erased rural market institutions that rural inhabitants had used to organize agricultural production and family life. Thus, an advanced economy at the time of the late Middle Ages and early Renaissance "undeveloped" over time. The economic development of this region in Italy was delayed as it failed to keep pace with the rest of Europe.
Using a negative case methodology to show how urban and rural markets change, Emigh employs methods of historical sociology and sectoral theories to examine how markets can prosper and suffer at the same time. She shows how sectoral relations are crucial to transitions to capitalism and how capitalist development can also contract markets.
"Emigh addresses important theoretical and methodological issues related to fifteenth century Tuscan socioeconomic structures....The heart of the book provides a great deal of empirical evidence that Emigh has collected or interpreted, which for this reviewer was the book's most significant contribution.... Emigh's book can be considered the best of what American historical social science research currently has to offer.... As such, it constitutes an important scholarly contribution and will remain a major accomplishment speaking to a variety of disciplines for many years to come."
"This excellent book is the culmination and synthesis of years of building-block studies by this author.... The Undevelopment of Capitalism is an important book, destined to become a classic."
"This rich and carefully argued book should shape the future study of Italian economic development and also provide a model for, and justification of, the analysis of sectoral relations in other times and places."
"At the heart of Emigh’s book lies a comparative study of two rural areas in the years about 1427–30, when the great territory-wide survey of household wealth known as the catasto was drawn up. Emigh matches catasto entries with notarial records to come up with impressively detailed pictures of property holding and lease arrangements in these years.... [T]he portraits she sketches from the documentation are invaluable."
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