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Agricultural Enlightenment: Knowledge, Technology, and Nature, 1750-1840

  • Provides a fuller understanding of the character and functioning of the pre-modern 'organic' economy
  • Assesses the role of government and the State in the pre-modern agricultural sector
  • Recovers a dimension of Enlightenment thought and practice which has been largely overlooked
  • Explores the diffusion and adoption of agricultural knowledge in the eighteenth century
  • Offers an analysis based on evidence drawn from all over Europe of the process of transferring skill and 'know how' in the agricultural sector and how it was successfully achieved

By: Peter M Jones(Author)

288 pages, 8 b/w illustrations

Oxford University Press

Hardback | Jan 2016 | #231555 | ISBN-13: 9780198716075
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NHBS Price: £59.99 $78/€67 approx

About this book

Agricultural Enlightenment explores the modernization of the rural economy in Europe through the lens of the Enlightenment. It focuses on the second half of the eighteenth century and emphasises the role of useful knowledge in the process of agrarian change and agricultural development. As such it invites economic historians to respond to the challenge issued by Joel Mokyr to look beyond quantitative data and to take seriously the argument that cultural factors, broadly understood, may have aided or hindered the evolution of agriculture in the early modern period ('what people knew and believed' had a direct bearing on their economic behaviour [Mokyr, The Enlightened Economy]). Evidence in support of the idea that a readily accessible supply of agricultural knowledge helps to explain the trajectory of the rural economy is drawn from all of the countries of Europe. Agricultural Enlightenment includes two cases studies of rapid rural modernization in Scotland and Denmark where Agricultural Enlightenment was swiftly followed by full-scale Agricultural Revolution.


1: Agriculture, Industry, and Commerce
2: The State and Agrarian Reform
3: Vectors and Agents of Knowledge Transmission
4: Diffusion in Practice: Emulation and Innovation
5: Technology in Agriculture
6: Agricultural Enlightenment and Agricultural Revolution
7: The Science of Agriculture
8: Nature and Environment

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Peter M. Jones is a graduate of the University of Leeds (BA) and the University of Oxford (DPhil) and has spent nearly the whole of his career as a teacher and researcher in the History Department of the University of Birmingham.

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