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The Wrong Way Round

Geoffrey Hawthorn, 17 September 1987

Rival Views of Market Society, and Other Recent Essays 
by Albert Hirschman.
Viking, 197 pp., £18.95, November 1986, 0 670 81319 2
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Development, Democracy and the Art of Trespassing: Essays in Honour of Albert Hirschman 
edited by Alejandro Foxley, Michael McPherson and Guillermo O’Donnell.
Notre Dame, 379 pp., $25.95, October 1986, 0 268 00859 0
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... The 20th century,’ Charles Sabel remarks in his essay in the collection in honour of Albert Hirschman, ‘has been a gigantic lesson in the transformability of theories, political programmes and institutions through their recombination in new contexts.’ It is a revealing remark. For although most of what now goes on in the ‘advanced’ societies – in what since the Bandung Conference of 1955 have sometimes been thought of as the First and Second Worlds – has indeed turned out to be very different from what was once expected; and although there is now also an even more varied Third World; that’s to say, although almost everything, event and context, has confounded expectation and will no doubt continue to do so – nevertheless the theories we have with which to understand, expect and direct it all are increasingly antique ...


Jon Elster, 16 September 1982

Essays in Trespassing: Economics to Politics and Beyond 
by Albert Hirschman.
Cambridge, 310 pp., £20, September 1981, 0 521 23826 9
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Shifting Involvements 
by Albert Hirschman.
Martin Robertson, 138 pp., £9.95, September 1982, 0 85520 487 7
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... In Anglo-American social science Albert Hirschman occupies a position at once central and peripheral, or at least anomalous. Of his centrality there can be no doubt. As one of three permanent members of the School of Social Science at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, he has a unique vantage-point for gathering and influencing scholars from all over the world ...

Plan it mañana

Geoffrey Hawthorn: Albert O. Hirschman, 11 September 2014

Wordly Philosopher: The Odyssey of Albert O. Hirschman 
by Jeremy Adelman.
Princeton, 740 pp., £27.95, April 2013, 978 0 691 15567 8
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The Essential Hirschman 
edited by Jeremy Adelman.
Princeton, 367 pp., £19.95, October 2013, 978 0 691 15990 4
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... qui peut,’ he said. ‘Il faut se débrouiller.’ Get out of this as best you can. Albert Hirschman would say that he’d been a débrouillard all his life. He’d left Berlin in 1933, sought an education in Paris and London, fought in Spain, worked in Trieste, fled back to France, enlisted, and with the rest of his émigré platoon now ...

Leave, and Leave Again

William Davies: The Brexit Mentality, 7 February 2019

... exit again. In his classic treatise from 1970, Exit, Voice and Loyalty, the economic theorist Albert Hirschman articulated the different ways power is exerted in the economy. In principle, competitive markets are systems in which ‘exit’ counts for everything. If I am unhappy with the quality of my washing powder, I can simply decline to buy it ...
Palanpur: The Economy of an Indian Village 
by C.J. Bliss and N.H. Stern.
Oxford, 340 pp., £15, October 1982, 0 19 828419 5
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... the theories discussed (related to the works of Alfred Marshall, Theodore Schultz, Arthur Lewis, Albert Hirschman, Gunnar Myrdal and others) are not specifically concerned with India as such. Indeed, that chapter provides a remarkably pithy and illuminating account of some of the most basic issues of development analysis and economic policy, and it ...

Here we go again

Rory Stewart: The Libyan Intervention, 31 March 2011

... 1920s Syria and 1860s Afghanistan. The arguments against intervention are neatly itemised by Albert Hirschman as ‘perversity’, ‘futility’ and ‘jeopardy’: an intervention could be dangerous (for us or for Libya); it could achieve nothing; or it could achieve exactly the reverse of what it intended. This line can be bolstered by the ...

Daughters, Dress Shirts, Spotted Dick

Geoffrey Hawthorn, 3 April 1980

... whites, whose average incomes are higher, to spend to defend their status in their own community. Albert Hirschman has extended this to propose that the ‘relative income hypothesis’ is strictly conditional. In homogeneous societies, societies which Douglas and Isherwood would perhaps describe as weakly grouped and weakly gridded, an increase in ...

Am I right to be angry?

Malcolm Bull: Superfluous Men, 2 August 2018

Age of Anger: A History of the Present 
by Pankaj Mishra.
Penguin, 416 pp., £9.99, February 2018, 978 0 14 198408 7
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... In​ The Passions and the Interests, published in 1977, Albert Hirschman revisited the 18th-century argument that the pursuit of worldly self-interest might be the most effective way of controlling destructive emotions like anger. The pursuit of interests that are constant and predictable potentially offers an escape from the see-saw effect of trying to curb one passion with another ...

All Curls and Pearls

Lorraine Daston: Why are we so curious?, 23 June 2005

The Uses of Curiosity in Early Modern France and Germany 
by Neil Kenny.
Oxford, 484 pp., £68, July 2004, 0 19 927136 4
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... sin to scintillation) career is without equal, even in the labile field of early modern passions. Albert Hirschman brilliantly argued that during this period greed was grudgingly elevated from vice to interest, on the grounds that it usefully curbed more destructive passions such as anger and ambition, an important step towards the moral acceptance of ...

Economic Performance

Sydney Checkland, 19 April 1984

The Victorian Economy 
by François Crouzet, translated by Anthony Forster.
Methuen, 430 pp., £18, June 1982, 0 416 31110 5
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British Economic Growth 1856-1973 
by R.C.O. Matthews, C.H. Feinstein and J.C. Odling-Smee.
Oxford, 712 pp., £37.50, October 1982, 0 19 828453 5
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The Cambridge Economic History of Europe. Vol. VII: The Industrial Economies: Capital, Labour and Enterprise 
edited by Peter Mathias.
Cambridge, 832 pp., £13.50, June 1982, 0 521 28800 2
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... construe economies in analytical/quantitative terms. To compound all this there are scholars like Albert Hirschman who insist on seeking new ‘connections’ between phenomena, and indeed ‘connections between connections’ (as Jon Elster described it, LRB, Vol. 4, No 17). These bridging speculations perform their magic either by deliberately leaving ...


Anthony Pagden, 13 June 1991

The Cambridge History of Latin America. Vol. VII: 1930 to the Present 
edited by Leslie Bethell.
Cambridge, 775 pp., £70, October 1990, 0 521 24518 4
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Magical Reels: A History of Cinema in Latin America 
by John King.
Verso, 266 pp., £29.95, November 1990, 0 86091 295 7
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Democracy and Development in Latin America: Economics, Politics and Religion in the Post-war Period 
by David Lehmann.
Polity, 235 pp., £29.50, April 1990, 0 7456 0776 4
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... enormous human cost. It is also the case that the economies of most Latin American republics, as Albert Hirschman long ago pointed out, are overly dependent upon a limited number of staples with weak, and sometimes non-existent, manufacturing sectors. Cuba was, and remains, almost wholly reliant upon sugar; Costa Rica, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras ...

Ever Closer Union?

Perry Anderson, 7 January 2021

... security protectorate. Nato, not the EEC, laid the military conflicts of the past to rest. As Albert Hirschman once caustically put it: ‘the European Community arrived a bit late in history for its widely proclaimed mission, to avert further wars between the major Western European nations.’ A beneficiary of the Pax Americana rather than a ...

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