Labour-intensive industrialization: a concept too many?

Lecture, 2 May 2017, Amsterdam, the Netherlands
2 May 2017
IISG, Posthumus Room, 15:00 hrs

Labour-intensive industrialization: a concept too many?

Peer Vries is currently writing a book on Japan and the Great Divergence, focusing on the question to what extent the history of modern economic growth in Japan can be made relevant for the Great-Divergence debate and to what extent the Great-Divergence debate can be made relevant for the history of modern economic growth in Japan. The book covers the period 1868-1937, with many excursions back into the Tokugawa era. Four themes are studied more in depth: the role of resources/ ghost acreage and empire in Japan’s economic development at the time; the question to what extent industrialising Japan was or was not a capitalist, market economy; the role of the state in Japan’s take-off, and as a fourth topic the question whether Japan’s industrialization was characterized by a high level of industriousness and labour intensity and as such was distinct from a more capital-, energy- and technology-intensive ‘Western’ route of industrialization. Ever since that claim has been made, in particular by Kaoru Sugihara, it has been hotly debated. During this lecture Vries will mainly focus on labour-intensive industrialisation in Japan.

Peer Vries (link is external) is currently Honorary Fellow at the International Institute of Social History in Amsterdam. He studied history at the University of Leiden, where he specialized in economic and social history. Vries always liked to be interdisciplinary and has extensive experience with teaching and evaluating PhD students not only in his work for the Posthumus Institute and for ESTER, but also in many courses for other research schools in which he has participated. Vries previously worked as Professor of Global Economic History at the University of Vienna, Austria. Some of his main publications are 'State, economy and the Great Divergence. Great Britain and China, 1680s - 1850s' (Bloomsbury Publishing PLC, 2015), 'Escaping poverty. The origins of modern economic growth', (Vienna University Press and V&R unipress, Vienna and Göttingen,2013), 'Zur politischen Ökonomie des Tees. Was uns Tee über die englische und chinesische Wirtschaft der Frühen Neuzeit sagen kann' (Böhlau Vienna, Cologne, Weimar, 2009).

IISH Seminar
This lecture is part of the monthly IISH Seminar series. In principle, seminars take place every first Tuesday of the month. The seminar is open to the public, but with regard to accommodation and distribution of the paper in advance, we would like you to register with Jacqueline Rutte,  You will receive the paper after registration. After the lecture we serve drinks. We are looking forward to meeting you.