Enlightenment Ideals and Belief in Progress in the Run-Up to the Industrial Revolution: A Textual Analysis

63 Pages Posted: 19 Dec 2023

See all articles by Ali Almelhem

Ali Almelhem

World Bank

Murat Iyigun

University of Colorado at Boulder; IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Austin Kennedy

University of Colorado at Boulder

Jared Rubin

Chapman University - The George L. Argyros College of Business and Economics

Abstract

Using textual analysis of 173,031 works printed in England between 1500 and 1900, we test whether British culture evolved to manifest a heightened belief in progress associated with science and industry. Our analysis yields three main findings. First, there was a separation in the language of science and religion beginning in the 17th century. Second, scientific volumes became more progress-oriented during the Enlightenment. Third, industrial works—especially those at the science-political economy nexus—were more progress-oriented beginning in the 17th century. It was therefore the more pragmatic, industrial works which reflected the cultural values cited as important for Britain's takeoff.

Keywords: language, religion, science, political economy, progressiveness, Enlightenment, industrial revolution

JEL Classification: C81, C88, N33, N63, O14, Z11

Suggested Citation

Almelhem, Ali and Iyigun, Murat and Kennedy, Austin and Rubin, Jared, Enlightenment Ideals and Belief in Progress in the Run-Up to the Industrial Revolution: A Textual Analysis. IZA Discussion Paper No. 16674, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4668604 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4668604

Ali Almelhem (Contact Author)

World Bank ( email )

1818 H Street, NW
Washington, DC 20433
United States

Murat Iyigun

University of Colorado at Boulder ( email )

1070 Edinboro Drive
Boulder, CO CO 80309
United States

IZA Institute of Labor Economics ( email )

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

Austin Kennedy

University of Colorado at Boulder ( email )

Jared Rubin

Chapman University - The George L. Argyros College of Business and Economics ( email )

One University Drive
Orange, CA 92866
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.jaredcrubin.com

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