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Bourgeois Dignity
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The big economic story of our times is not the Great Recession. It is how China and India began to embrace neoliberal ideas of economics and attributed a sense of dignity and liberty to the bourgeoisie who had been denied it for so long. The result was an explosion in economic growth and proof that economic change depends less on foreign trade, investment, or material causes, and a whole lot more on ideas and what people believe. Or so says Deirdre N. McCloskey in "Bourgeois Dignity", a fiercely contrarian history that wages a similar argument about economics in the West. Here she turns her attention to seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Europe to reconsider the birth of the industrial revolution and the rise of capitalism. According to McCloskey, our modern world was not the product of new markets and innovations, but rather the result of shifting opinions about them. During this time, talk of private property, commerce, and even the bourgeoisie itself radically altered, becoming far more approving and flying in the face of prejudices several millennia old. The wealth of nations, then, didn't grow so dramatically because of economic factors: it grew because rhetoric about markets and free enterprise finally became enthusiastic and encouraging of their inherent dignity. An utterly fascinating sequel to her critically acclaimed book "The Bourgeois Virtues", "Bourgeois Dignity" is a feast of intellectual riches from one of our most spirited and ambitious historians - a work that will forever change our understanding of how the power of persuasion shapes our economic lives.
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About the Author

Deirdre N. McCloskey is Distinguished Professor of Economics, History, English, and Communication at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Among her many books are The Bourgeois Virtues: Ethics for an Age of Commerce; Crossing: A Memoir; The Secret Sins of Economics; and If You're So Smart: The Narrative of Economic Expertise, all published by the University of Chicago Press.

Reviews

"Bourgeois Dignity is packed with ideas: a fact in every sentence, an idea on every page." (Times Higher Education) "The discussions [in Bourgeois Dignity] are intellectually serious but not academically dry or overly technical.... [An] entertaining and informative study." (National Review) "McCloskey's main argument is that when business became a suitable topic for those in the Western bourgeois class, they began to encourage economic innovations both with their money and with their supportive rhetoric. This support of the business world is what caused the growth in wealth of western nations and not in other societies or civilizations." (Chicago Tribune) "Deirdre McCloskey is an outrageously prolific and always fascinating economist and writer.... Bourgeois Dignity is only the latest chapter in what has to be one of the most interesting scholarly careers in America today." (Boston Globe)"

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