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Freedom and Necessity

Introduction to the Study of Society

By (author) Joan Robinson
Format: Hardback
Publisher: Allen & Unwin, Sydney, Australia
Published: 2nd Apr 1970
Dimensions: w 130mm h 190mm
ISBN-10: 0043301525
ISBN-13: 9780043301524
Barcode No: 9780043301524

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This perspicacious little book offers a "hasty sketch" of the evolution of human economic behavior from prehistory to the post-industrial age. Professor Robinson sees the economic interpretation of history as an indispensable element in the study of society, but only one element, and her essay suggests the relationship of economic activity to biology, geography, psychology, religion, culture, and social and political behavior. The survey progresses from an examination of the adaptation of animal species to their environment (drawing upon Konrad Lorenz and other students of animal behavior) through an analysis of primitive man's economic arrangements and the origins of the concepts of property, surplus, wealth, and status. Chapters on land and labor, race and class, and commerce and nationality trace briefly the changing economic and social relationships which resulted from agricultural and then industrial development. Short discussions of capitalism and "the new industrial state," socialism in Russia and China, and the problems of third world development complete the historical review. Robinson is sharpest on the shortcomings of laissez-faire capitalism: "Commercial considerations swallow up more and more of social life. . . . 'Freedom' has come to be identified with freedom to make money." The two concluding chapters assert the primacy of human values over orthodox economic ideologies. "The task of the generation now in rebellion is to reassert the authority of morality over technology; the business of social scientists is to help them to see both how necessary and how difficult the task is going to be." An instructive essay, a general framework for specialist studies. (Kirkus Reviews)