Political Economy to Economics Via Commerce: The Evolution of British Academic Economics 1860–1920

  • Keith Tribe
Part of the Sociology of the Sciences Yearbook book series (SOSC, volume 15)


The story of the development of economics as a systematic body of theoretical knowledge is routinely held to begin with Smith’s Wealth of Nations (1776). The work of Ricardo, so the story goes, then constitutes the first significant intellectual advance on Smith; his Essay on Profits (1815) and Principles of Political Economy and Taxation (1817) build upon Smithian foundations but develop a systematic theoretical core for economic theorising. Following a simplified linear account of the discipline, during the years from 1830 to 1870 it is thought that there is much work done that is of lasting interest; but only in the 1870s does a genuine theoretical shift take place with the so-called ‘Marginal Revolution’, leading on in Britain through the work of Jevons and Marshall to the elaboration of economics in its modern guise.


Political Economy Economic Science Extension Teaching Educational Provision Popular Education 
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© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1990

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  • Keith Tribe

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