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    Economic life

    Waddell, Brodie (2016) Economic life. In: Sangha, L. and Willis, J. (eds.) Understanding Early Modern Primary Sources. Routledge Guides to Using Historical Sources. Abingdon, UK: Routledge, pp. 224-239. ISBN 9781138823648.

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    This chapter examines some of the most important ways historians have attempted to study the early modern economy and its culture, focusing on qualitative and quantitative approaches. It shows how richly textured descriptive sources – such as diaries, letters and printed works – can provide valuable insight into how economic changes were experienced and how attitudes towards economic issues evolved. However, these sources can also create false impressions thanks to exaggerated rhetoric and unrepresentative authors. In contrast, quantifiable sources – such as account books, taxation records and vital statistics – can offer stronger evidence of the speed and magnitude of economic development, sometimes revealing counterintuitive results. However, these sources too have weaknesses as they are often inconsistent or unsystematic in this period, making it easy to over-interpret insignificant variations. As examples from recent work shows, the best research in this subfield tends to draw on both ‘texts’ and ‘numbers’ to reconstruct early modern economic life.


    Item Type: Book Section
    School: Birkbeck Faculties and Schools > Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > School of Historical Studies
    Depositing User: Brodie Waddell
    Date Deposited: 14 Jun 2016 13:29
    Last Modified: 02 Aug 2023 17:24


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