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The Thunder of History: The Origins and Development of the New Fiscal Sociology

THE NEW FISCAL SOCIOLOGY: TAXATION IN COMPARATIVE AND HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE, Isaac William Martin, Ajay K. Mehrotra, Monica Prasad, eds., New York: Cambridge University Press, 2009

Indiana Legal Studies Research Paper No. 147

29 Pages Posted: 26 Aug 2009 Last revised: 9 Jul 2013

Isaac William Martin

University of California, San Diego (UCSD)

Ajay K. Mehrotra

American Bar Foundation; Northwestern Pritzker School of Law

Monica Prasad

Northwestern University

Abstract

Scholars have long recognized the importance of taxation to the study of modern society. In recent decades, a new and innovative wave of multidisciplinary scholarship on the sources and consequences of taxation has begun to emerge. In this introductory chapter, we chronicle the historical roots, recent developments, and future promise of this emerging field, which we call the new fiscal sociology. More specifically, in our introduction we crystallize the developments in this recent scholarship. We argue that new comparative and historical perspectives provide several innovative insights about taxation. First, that economic development does not inevitably lead to a particular form of taxation, but rather that institutional context, political conflicts, and contingent events lead to a diversity of tax states in the modern world. Second, that taxpayer consent is best explained not as coercion, predation, or illusion, but as a collective bargain in which taxpayers give up resources in exchange for collective goods that amplify the society’s productive capacities. And, third, because taxation is central not only to the state’s capacity in war, but in fact to all of social life, the different forms of the tax state explain many of the political and social differences between countries. The essays in this collection, written by leading scholars from a variety of disciplines, showcase the new fiscal sociology. The contributors explore the many ways in which the relations of taxation are pervasive, dynamic, and central to modernity. The specific chapters address the social and historical sources of tax policy, the problem of taxpayer consent, and the social and cultural consequences of taxation. They trace fundamental connections between tax institutions and macro-historical phenomena – wars, shifting racial boundaries, religious traditions, gender regimes, labor systems, and more. (Contributors include: Charles Tilly, Isaac William Martin, Ajay K. Mehrotra, Monica Prasad, Joseph J. Thorndike, Andrea Louise Campbell, Fred Block, Christopher Howard, Evan S. Lieberman, Eisaku Ide, Sven Steinmo, Naomi Feldman, Joel Slemrod, Robin L. Einhorn, Edgar Kiser, Audrey Sacks, Beverly Moran, Edward McCaffery, W. Elliot Brownlee, and John L. Campbell.)

Keywords: fiscal sociology, tax institutions, comparative political economy, historical political economy, tax law

JEL Classification: E62, H2, H3, K34, N10, N40, O10, P16, P43, P51

Suggested Citation

Martin, Isaac William and Mehrotra, Ajay K. and Prasad, Monica, The Thunder of History: The Origins and Development of the New Fiscal Sociology. THE NEW FISCAL SOCIOLOGY: TAXATION IN COMPARATIVE AND HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE, Isaac William Martin, Ajay K. Mehrotra, Monica Prasad, eds., New York: Cambridge University Press, 2009; Indiana Legal Studies Research Paper No. 147. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1461204

Isaac William Martin

University of California, San Diego (UCSD) ( email )

9500 Gilman Drive
Mail Code 0502
La Jolla, CA 92093-0112
United States

Ajay K. Mehrotra (Contact Author)

American Bar Foundation ( email )

750 N. Lake Shore Drive
Chicago, IL 60611
United States

Northwestern Pritzker School of Law ( email )

375 E. Chicago Ave
Chicago, IL 60611
United States

Monica Prasad

Northwestern University ( email )

2001 Sheridan Road
Evanston, IL 60208
United States

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