J. A. Hobson pp 129-134 | Cite as


  • Michael Schneider
Part of the Contemporary Economists book series (CONTECON)


The importance of Adam Smith in the history of economics derives from his ‘imaginative integration of many ideas into a single picture’ (Toulmin and Goodfield, 1963, p. 263, referring to the role of Isaac Newton in the history of physics). Hobson, too, painted a picture of the overall functioning of economies which was substantially new. No one has expressed the nature of Hobson’s work better than W. H. Hamilton (1915, pp. 565, 567), in his review of Work and Wealth:

it is of a kind with Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations. It is, however, unlike the latter in two essentials: first, in the comprehensiveness of the social program which its problem requires it to elaborate; and, secondly, in the extreme complexity of the social ideal, the realization of which is the object at which the program aims ... these two characteristics serve alike to classify the treatise and to indicate its differences in scope and objective from current theory ... His [Hobson’s] condemnation of laissez-faire and of automatism in all its forms imposes upon him the task of a quite detailed elaboration of a social program. Compared with Smith’s quest, his is for a veritable will-of-the-wisp.


Market Failure Social Program Detailed Elaboration Extreme Complexity American Economic Association 
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© Michael Schneider 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael Schneider
    • 1
  1. 1.La Trobe UniversityMelbourneAustralia

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