Afterthoughts on Material Civilization and Capitalism (The by Fernand Braudel

By Fernand Braudel

"In this concise book... Braudel summarizes the extensive subject matters of his three-volume Civilisation materielle et capitalisme, 1400-1800 and provides his reflections at the historian's craft and at the nature of the old imagination... Taken as an entire, the publication is provocative and stimulating. infrequently, it rises to revelation while or 3 sentences of compressed yet tremendous prose strength us to re-examine the occasions of a whole century or the heritage of a continent." -- American historic evaluation.

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But such manipulations were as foreign to ordinary mortals as the supersecret deliberations of the Banque des Reglements Internationaux of Basel are to the man on the street today. Thus, the commercial or exchange world was a world of hierarchies, starting with the humblest jobs-porters, stevedores, peddlers, carters, and 58 THE MARKET ECONOMY AND CAPlTAUSM sailors-and moving up to cashiers, shopkeepers, brokers of various sorts, and moneylenders, and finally reaching the merchants. At first glance we are surprised that, as the progress brought by the market economy affected commercial society as a whole, specialization and the division of labor increased, except at the summit, the level of the merchantcapitalists.

At first glance we are surprised that, as the progress brought by the market economy affected commercial society as a whole, specialization and the division of labor increased, except at the summit, the level of the merchantcapitalists. And so this process of breaking down functions into several smaller ones, this process of modernization, was at first evident only at the base of the pyramid: shops and peddlers began to specialize. Specialization did not occur at the top of the pyramid, for until the nineteenth century the top-level merchant virtually never restricted himself to a single activity.

Specialization did not occur at the top of the pyramid, for until the nineteenth century the top-level merchant virtually never restricted himself to a single activity. He was, of course, a merchant, but he never handled one product exclusively, and as circumstances directed he could as well become a ship chandler, an underwriter, a lender, a borrower, a financier, a banker, or even a .. manufacturer" or an agricultural manager. In eighteenth-century Barcelona the retail shopkeeper or botiguer always had a specialization; he would sell either linens or woolen cloths or spices, and so forth.

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