Moral supervision and autonomous social order: wages and consumption in 18th-century economic thought

Article


Firth, Ann. 2002. "Moral supervision and autonomous social order: wages and consumption in 18th-century economic thought ." History of the Human Sciences. 15 (1), pp. 39-57. https://doi.org/10.1177/0952695102015001072
Article Title

Moral supervision and autonomous social order: wages and consumption in 18th-century economic thought

ERA Journal ID11335
Article CategoryArticle
Authors
AuthorFirth, Ann
Journal TitleHistory of the Human Sciences
Journal Citation15 (1), pp. 39-57
Year2002
Place of PublicationLondon, United Kingdom
ISSN0952-6951
1461-720X
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.1177/0952695102015001072
Web Address (URL)http://hhs.sagepub.com/content/vol15/issue1/
Abstract

[Abstract]: Political economy in the 18th century operated in the absence of the conception of an autonomous social order articulated in the later concepts of `the economy' and `society'. Without a self-sustaining mechanism oriented to stability and endogenous economic growth, national prosperity and social order were assumed to depend upon the detailed interventions in economic life that are characteristic of mercantilism and the police of the poor. Smith's theory that autonomous economic growth underpinned a stable order of social interdependencies based upon the division of labour allowed him to move beyond or modify these assumptions. It freed him from the ideas that constant interference in the relationship between agriculture and manufacturing was necessary in order to guarantee food security and that social order and national prosperity depended upon enforcing constraints upon the interests of wage earners.

Keywordsconsumption; wages; wealth creation
ANZSRC Field of Research 2020380103. Economic history
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Byline AffiliationsUniversity of Southern Queensland
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