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Journal Article

A STRANGE CAREER: THE HISTORICAL STUDY OF ECONOMIC LIFE

WILLIAM H. SEWELL, JR.
History and Theory
Vol. 49, No. 4, Theme Issue 49: History and Theory: The Next Fifty Years (December 2010), pp. 146-166
Published by: Wiley for Wesleyan University
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/41300054
Page Count: 21
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A STRANGE CAREER: THE HISTORICAL STUDY OF ECONOMIC LIFE
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Abstract

This article attempts to account for professional historians' relative neglect of the history of economic life over the past thirty years, looking mainly at the American case. This neglect seems paradoxical, considering the remarkable transformations that have taken place in world capitalism during this same period. I trace the neglect to the capture of the once interdisciplinary field of economic history by mathematically inclined economists and to the roughly simultaneous turn of historians from social to cultural history. I conclude by suggesting some topics in the history of economic life that seem both timely and exciting. I also suggest some intellectual resources that other disciplines, particularly economic sociology and economic history, could offer should historians decide to tackle the history of economic life once again.

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