This chapter deals with the vast territories east of the Elbe river, including Poland–Lithuania, the Czech lands, Brandenburg–Prussia, and Russia. There are two primary and interlocking themes, first the westernization of these lands, secondly, the origins and development of the ‘second serfdom’ in the agrarian East. Westernization of the agrarian East came largely through the introduction and expansion of the ‘Frankish agrarian system’, which began around 1200 with Western colonization east of the Elbe. Westernization was essentially a repetition of basic agrarian developments that had already taken place in much of north-west Europe in the period 600–1000 AD. One of the most important of these developments was manorialism, and the so-called ‘second serfdom’ in Eastern Europe was thus not a deviation from westernization, but rather an integral part of it.
Luxury and its discontents have become key areas of debate on our social condition in the late twentieth and early years of the twenty-first century. Luxury has become the common parlance of advertising and branding. It is part of the upscaling of consumer aspirations, and a turning away from the mass consumerism that underpinned consumer society from the 1960s to the 1980s. Aspirations are associated with luxury and designer goods, with lifestyle choices of affluence and distinction. Manufacturers give nearly every category of good they produce a premium brand; their products signal distinction and the pursuit of status. This phenomenon of upscaling, branding, and status-seeking through consumer goods has intensified dramatically since the 1980s, but it has also been with us a very long time. This article presents a global perspective on luxury, the luxury trades, and the roots of industrial growth. It examines luxury and consumption in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, social science theory and luxury, luxury's historical context, the debates over luxury goods, luxury and the global economy, and global export ware.
Industry was the most dynamic sector of the European economy in the early modern period, during which it was characterized by both specialization and diversification. This chapter explores the various industries of early modern Europe, examines their forms of organization, and investigates the causes of their differing regional distribution and growth trajectories. Historical scholarship has mainly focused on the causes of industrial growth, especially with regard to later factory industrialization. Starting with theories of ‘proto-industrialization’ and the ‘industrious revolution’, this chapter examines the preconditions for early modern European industrial growth by analysing their effect on costs. To this end, it investigates the roles played by nature, rural society, and urban society. It finds that natural endowments had considerable effects on a number of early modern European industries, but ultimately the strongest impact was exercised by the comparative costs of sociopolitical institutions.
In the decades that have followed World War II, science and technology have come to play ever more central roles in the lives and life worlds of Europeans. Indeed, in the twenty-first century there is very little that goes on in Europe without there being at least some influence from science and technology. Europe has become a place where scientific ‘facts’ and technical ‘artifacts’ permeate our existence. They have infiltrated our languages, altered our behaviour, changed our habits, and, perhaps most fundamentally, imposed their instrumental logic – what philosophers call technological rationality – on our social interaction and the ways in which we communicate with one another. The advent of industrialisation led to the formation of a number of new scientific and engineering fields – thermodynamics, biochemistry, public health, electrical engineering, city planning, among others – and new forms of higher education and communication. This article focuses on science and technology in postwar Europe, and looks at postwar reconstruction, reform, and the age of commercialisation.
This essay compares the experience of workers and workplace politics under communism in the Soviet Union, Poland, East Germany, China, and Vietnam. State–labour relations in these contexts were fraught with tension from the start. Workers’ experience varied widely over time and space. Nevertheless, all workers were subject to state-imposed forms of domination at the workplace and in society at large. This domination was the effect of a powerful ideology, dense organizations, and social hierarchies that were mutually reinforcing. Many workers actively supported communist goals and were rewarded, but the system failed to motivate enough workers to make it work in the long term. Against the background of stagnant or declining living standards, propaganda failed to enlighten most workers while coercion could not produce disciplined and efficient ones. Socialist workers were disempowered but not powerless to manipulate and resist the system.