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Citizenship in pre-modern Eurasia: a comparison between China, the Near East and Europe

By Maarten Prak


‘Good’ institutions are now often portrayed as a precondition for economic development and growth. This paper revisits an old thesis, first articulated by Max Weber, that citizenship explains why Europe managed to modernise and Asian societies did not. Like Weber, the paper focuses on urban citizenship, but uses a broader definition than he did. The paper finds that although Asian towns did not have legal citizenship, they displayed many more characteristics of citizenship-as-practice than Weber and his followers allowed for. It also finds that European towns often were less autonomous than Weber assumed. Economic development and growth in the pre-modern era were not so much determined by citizenship per se, but by the way towns and urban interests could be articulated at state level

Topics: D901 Europe (General), DS Asia, HC Economic History and Conditions, HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
Year: 2011
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Provided by: LSE Research Online

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