Talk Changes Things: The Implications of McCloskey's Bourgeois Dignity for Historical Inquiry

The Journal of Socio-Eocnomics, 41 (6) 2012

5 Pages Posted: 6 Nov 2013

See all articles by Nona P. Martin

Nona P. Martin

George Mason University

Virgil Henry Storr

George Mason University - Department of Economics; George Mason University - Mercatus Center; University of Arizona Center for the Philosophy of Freedom

Date Written: April 29, 2012

Abstract

In The Bourgeois Dignity, Deidre McCloskey asserts that although there were many reasons that have been posited for the rise of the bourgeois class and the tremendous increase in the world’s standard of living that occurred during the Industrial Revolution, including the enlightenment and the Protestant ethic, something else was required. For her, that something else was a change in the esteem that was afforded to the bourgeois, to capitalists and to capitalism. The talk changed and a change in the talk was what ultimately changed things. In this article, we briefly explore and defend McCloskey’s (2010) claim that a change in talk was at the root of the Industrial Revolution. Further, contrary to much of the literature on the relationship between discourse and social change which tends to focus on discourse as an artifact rather than a driver of change, we argue using examples from outside of economics and economic history that a change in talk not only tends to accompany but often precedes dramatic social transformation.

Keywords: McCloskey, revolution, protestant ethic, bourgeois

Suggested Citation

Martin, Nona P. and Storr, Virgil Henry, Talk Changes Things: The Implications of McCloskey's Bourgeois Dignity for Historical Inquiry (April 29, 2012). The Journal of Socio-Eocnomics, 41 (6) 2012. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2350843

Nona P. Martin

George Mason University ( email )

4400 University Drive
Fairfax, VA 22030
United States

Virgil Henry Storr (Contact Author)

George Mason University - Department of Economics ( email )

4400 University Drive
Fairfax, VA 22030
United States

HOME PAGE: http://virgilstorr.org/

George Mason University - Mercatus Center ( email )

3434 Washington Blvd., 4th Floor
Arlington, VA 22201
United States

HOME PAGE: http://virgilstorr.org/

University of Arizona Center for the Philosophy of Freedom ( email )

Department of History
Tucson, AZ 85721
United States

HOME PAGE: http://virgilstorr.org/

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