The economy and Pocock's political economy

History of European Ideas 34 (3):334-344 (2008)
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In his histories of political discourse, Pocock has construed political economy as a prime site for hostile responses to the dilapidating effects of commerce on the virtue of citizens. In this paper, I dispute two aspects of Pocock's treatment of this terrain. The first is the criteria he uses to identify the constitution of political economy, which are vague and make no reference to the emergence of ‘the economy’ as a sphere distinct from the state. The second, and closely related complaint, is that by conscripting earlier writings on trade as anticipations of political economy their historical specificity is effaced, resulting in anachronism of the very kind Pocock has typically tried to correct. I conclude by drawing out some general implications for the historiography of political economy. Copyright © 2007 Elsevier Ltd All rights reserved



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