Picture of two heads

Open Access research that challenges the mind...

The Strathprints institutional repository is a digital archive of University of Strathclyde research outputs. Strathprints provides access to thousands of Open Access research papers by University of Strathclyde researchers, including those from the School of Psychological Sciences & Health - but also papers by researchers based within the Faculties of Science, Engineering, Humanities & Social Sciences, and from the Strathclyde Business School.

Discover more...

The Scottish path to capitalist agriculture 3: the enlightenment as the theory and practice of improvement

Davidson, Neil (2005) The Scottish path to capitalist agriculture 3: the enlightenment as the theory and practice of improvement. Journal of Agrarian Change, 5 (1). pp. 1-72. ISSN 1471-0358

Full text not available in this repository. (Request a copy from the Strathclyde author)

Abstract

The second in this series of articles traced the transformation of Scottish agriculture during the period between 1747 and 1815. The Scottish Enlightenment is usually seen either as a passive expression of these and related economic changes, or as a local variant on European-wide intellectual trends with little direct connection to economy or society. In fact, it was directly involved in the transformation in three ways: as a theory of socio-economic development ('political economy'), a programme for agrarian change and the movement for its implementation ('Improvement'). The Scottish Enlightenment theorists were always conscious of the oppressive aspects of the division of labour which were inevitable under their own model of 'commercial society'. Towards the end of the eighteenth century, however, they became increasingly aware of how 'actually existing capitalism' concentrated power in ways that the model had not predicted. Faced with the counter-revolutionary onslaught on British radicalism which occurred in response to the French Revolution, the Scottish Enlightenment shattered under the weight of these contradictions into its component academic disciplines. The economic aspects of the Scottish Revolution accomplished, political economy increasingly shed all elements of critique and became reduced to an intellectually rigorous justification for the now capitalist landowning classes and the emergent industrial bourgeoisie.