Decline theories and counter-arguments

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  Decline theories and counter-arguments

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مُساهمةموضوع: Decline theories and counter-arguments   2011-08-09, 13:34

The ‘cultural critique’
Perhaps the best
known theories of decline are those sometimes referred to under the
umbrella term ‘cultural critique’. The central notion here is that key
features of British culture have proved damaging to competitive economic
performance. In particular, the argument is that British middle- and
upper-class cultures have had an especially deleterious effect on
entrepreneurial life. The elite preferred continuity, preservation and
antiquity to change, innovation and novelty. Romantic and pastoral
idealism obscured from view the realities of hard-headed economic
decision-making. Public schools and leading universities shared a bias
against business, science, industry and technology with the result that
the elite products of these institutions were unable to offer
first-class economic leadership: universities were a way out of, not
into, industry; and industrial management was of poor quality. Training
and education were inadequate, and short-termism hampered many areas of
economic and political life. The arguments of Correlli Barnett and
Martin Wiener have been profoundly stimulating and influential here:
indeed, the decline debates are unimaginable without their contributions
(English and Kenny 1999; Wiener 1992; Barnett 1987). Yet, a strong and
often persuasive counter-reaction to this thesis has emerged. Bill
Rubinstein’s more systematic and empirically developed research into
wealth and the wealthy in Britain has led him to argue that British
strength has rested on finance and commerce, rather than on industry
(1981; 1987). This digs at the roots of much cultural-critique thinking:
if the economy could flourish primarily on the foundation of finance
and commerce, then de-industrialisation need not entail national
economic decline at all. Indeed, Rubinstein argues that Thatcherite
political economy was a reversion, whether witting or not, to the
economic strengths at the heart of the British pattern of development
(Rubinstein 1990; 1993). Rubinstein is not alone in challenging Wiener’s
attack on the public schools and the old universities, and other
features of the latter’s argument have also been assailed (Robbins 1990;
Harvie 1985; Edgerton 1996).

Similarly, many aspects of Correlli
Barnett’s thesis (and indeed his research methodology itself) have been
convincingly questioned by specialist scholars (Edgerton 1991;
Tomlinson 1997; Clarke 1997; Contemporary Record 1987). Rather than
seeing Britain as anti-technological, anti-scientific and
anti-industrial, some historians contend that in fact Britain has been a
powerful twentieth-century scientific force, that British engineers and
scientists have played a leading part in industry and government, and
that the state has been an important supporter of technology and science
(Edgerton 1996). Again, Wiener’s emphasis on the anti-industrial impact
of rural preoccupation has also been questioned. Peter Mandler has
recently pointed out that: cultures absorbed in their rural past are not
necessarily anti-modern; England between 1880 and 1914 was actually
less characterised by a nostalgic interest in the countryside than were
other European countries; and inter-war England was again less absorbed
in rural nostalgia than other European cultures and was certainly not
backward-looking (1997). Indeed, it is worth asking just how many
pre-First World War
English people, let alone Scots, Welsh and Irish,
were in fact preoccupied by a rural-nostalgic approach. Enthusiasts for
such an approach can be found, but it is doubtful whether they were
truly representative. In particular, two central points emerge from the
extensive controversies generated by the provocative claims of Barnett
and Wiener. First, even if the arguments about British culture were
conceded, and there is considerable doubt on this point, could one
demonstrate beyond reasonable doubt the connection between such features
of British culture and the retardation of economic growth? No wholly
convincing causal connection has yet been established. Second, if
relative British failure is to be substantially explained by recourse to
cultural explanations of this type, then it is necessary to demonstrate
that Britain’s rivals were less flawed by such supposed cultural
hindrances. Attacks on the cultural critique have frequently focused on
the fact that Britain’s competitors were at least as likely
to
exhibit the same cultural tendencies as those which supposedly inhibited
British competitiveness. As Bill Rubinstein has rightly pointed out,
modern industrial economies have been built in cultures containing many
anticapitalist elements; indeed, British culture may well have been less
hostile to industrial development and entrepreneurship than that of its
rivals (1993).
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اسامة23



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مُساهمةموضوع: رد: Decline theories and counter-arguments   2011-08-09, 17:31

بارك الله فيك اخيتي
على الطرح القيم والموضوع الرائع
شكرا جزيلا لك ....
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معاينة صفحة البيانات الشخصي للعضو
Roshan



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مُساهمةموضوع: رد: Decline theories and counter-arguments   2011-08-14, 20:03

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Decline theories and counter-arguments
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