Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library
The Undevelopment of Capitalism

The Undevelopment of Capitalism: Sectors and Markets in Fifteenth-Century Tuscany

Rebecca Jean Emigh
Copyright Date: 2008
Published by: Temple University Press
Pages: 288
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    The Undevelopment of Capitalism
    Book Description:

    The results of a decade-long research study by the author, inThe Undevelopment of CapitalismRebecca Jean Emigh argues that the expansion of the Florentine economic market in the fifteenth century helped to undo the development of markets of other economies, especially the rural economy of Tuscany, paradoxically slowing down the economic development of northern Italy overall. This "undeveloping" process, as Emigh calls it, produced an advanced economy at the time of the late Middle Ages and early Renaissance, but created the conditions whereby much of this area of Europe delayed its full development into industrial capitalism by many ages, so that full-scale industrialization happened in other places first, leaving northern Italy behind.As a lucid explanation of capitalism that turns back the clock even further on its birth,The Undevelopment of Capitalismmakes a significant contribution to the studies of capitalism, historical sociology, and theories of markets as economic and cultural institutions.

    eISBN: 978-1-59213-620-9
    Subjects: Sociology, Economics

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Tables and Figures
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xii)
  5. Methodological Notes
    (pp. xiii-xvi)
  6. 1 Capitalism and Tuscany: Investigating the Past
    (pp. 1-14)

    This book takes up the classic social science question of why capitalist development occurs by asking where it does not occur. Karl Marx, Max Weber, Adam Smith, and Emile Durkheim were preoccupied with trying to explain what they perceived as profound changes in their societies associated with the transition to capitalism. This issue has preoccupied social scientists since then. Instead of considering where such a transition occurred, however, I examine a paradoxical case of capitalist development—or more appropriately “undevelopment”—in the Italian region of Tuscany. In the Middle Ages, this region had a highly advanced economy and was a...

  7. 2 Tuscany as a Negative Case of Transition to Capitalism
    (pp. 15-27)

    To investigate Tuscan history, I use negative case methodology (explained in detail in Emigh 1997c; for applications, see Bartram 2000; Emigh 1998b, 2003a; Riley 2003). This methodology is used to analyze a strategically chosen negative case, in which an outcome that had been predicted by theory did not occur. Because the case is compared to theoretical generalizations that incorporate dimensions of multiple cases, it is inherently comparative and deductive. Negative case methodology leads to the development of the content of sociological theory under two conditions: first, the negation, the gap between the expected outcome and the theoretical explanation, must be...

  8. 3 Linking Sectors and Markets
    (pp. 28-63)

    Sectoral theories are the most promising devices for explaining the undevelopment of Tuscan capitalism (Chapter 2), so their content is developed in this chapter by linking them to theories of markets. Sectoral theories explain how manufacturing and agricultural activities are organized and related. Theories of markets complement sectoral theories, because theories of markets explain how the exchange of the inputs and outputs from manufacturing and agriculture are coordinated through markets in capitalist economies. Instead of using the economic models of markets that implicitly underlie sectoral theories, however, I develop a sociocultural theory of markets. I conceptualize markets as structures that...

  9. 4 Smallholding: The Circulation of Property
    (pp. 64-91)

    Francesco di Nuccino, a smallholder who lived in Castelnuovo, an unremarkable town in rural Tuscany, was fortunate to have two daughters married on the same day in 1425. To provide their dowries, he contracted several debts, traded houses, and then sold the exchanged house. Antonio di Michele, the groom of Francesco’s daughter, Barbara, purchased one house (which was sold because it was part of a different dowry transaction) and sold two others before the receipt of her dowry. Just about a year later, Antonio purchased a piece of land (Emigh 2003b:411–413). These transactions show how land and credit markets...

  10. 5 Urban Involvement in Agriculture
    (pp. 92-129)

    Giovanni Rucellai, a wealthy Tuscan merchant of the fifteenth century, wrote:

    Now I shall discuss the best way to invest money: whether it should be all in cash, or all in real estate and communal bonds, or some in one and some in the other. Now it is true that money is very difficult to conserve and handle; it is very susceptible to the whims of fortune, and few know how to manage it. But whoever possesses a lot of money and knows how to manage it is, as they say, the master of the business community because he is...

  11. 6 Sharecropping: The Consolidation of Property
    (pp. 130-167)

    ThePortataof Stefano di Lotto, a sharecropper in the parish of Santa Maria a Spugnole, states somewhat poignantly, “nothing of value is found here”¹ (AC142, fol. 568r), indicating that Stefano and his family—his wife, their two adult sons, Piero and Lotto, and Lotto’s wife—had no discernible taxable assets. The declaration, apparently written by the manager of the Medici farms (see Footnote 11), states that Stefano was a tenant of Giovanni di Bicci de’ Medici and that he owed him fifty florins. This declaration forms a striking contrast to the ones from Montecatini and Castelnuovo, in which...

  12. 7 Comparing Productivity, Income, and Indebtedness
    (pp. 168-195)

    Was sharecropping more productive than smallholding? Were sharecroppers miserably impoverished (review in Brucker 1994:6–7) or relatively prosperous (Herlihy and Klapisch-Zuber 1985:120; Klapisch and Demonet 1975:424; cf. reviews in Cherubini 1985:131–138; Cohn 2000:183)? To answer these questions, this chapter compares the agricultural productivity, income, and indebtedness of smallholders in Montecatini and Castelnuovo di Val di Cecina and sharecroppers in Santa Maria a Spugnole and San Piero a Sieve.

    In theCatastoof 1427, taxation was based on capitalized income from assets and the number of household members that households reported in theirPortate.¹ As a consequence, theCatastocontains...

  13. 8 Conclusions
    (pp. 196-224)

    Fifteenth-century Tuscany is a negative case because the outcome predicted by theory did not occur (Emigh 1997c). Marxist, Weberian, and neoinstitutionalist theories, as well as sectoral theories rooted in these paradigms, suggest that during this period of time, preconditions existed that should have produced a continued transition to capitalism, yet no such transition occurred (Chapter 2). I used negative case methodology to explain empirically the Tuscan case and to expand the substantive content of theories of transitions to capitalism.

    The empirical evidence revolved around an examination of landholding, the point at which sectoral activities intersected with markets and property devolution....

  14. Bibliography
    (pp. 225-256)
  15. Index
    (pp. 257-271)
  16. Back Matter
    (pp. 272-272)