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The development of the concept of unemployment leading to Keynes's 'General Theory'

Dixon, W. (1996). The development of the concept of unemployment leading to Keynes's 'General Theory'. (Unpublished Doctoral thesis, City, University of London)


Economics is a central element of statecraft. Ricardo argued for a natural system of political order through which the free operation of partial interests would achieve the general interest. The premise of this system was the independent labourer. This premise has been the most important for any system of economics in that it is not just the first assumption but also the result to be achieved. After Ricardo we can follow the course of political economy as it sought to secure its initial assumptions within changing social circumstances. We can see the changes which occurred in political economy in the 19th century as a response to the problems posed by the emergence of a political challenge to the market. First the classical conception of poverty was replaced by the modem conception of shortage and then the concept of unemployment and so full employment replaced the old idea of redundant persons. In this light Keynes’s General Theory can be regarded as the completion of the process in that it completed a history of reform that had set out to retrieve a sustainable political order on the basis of the independent labourer. In the course of this development the foundation of the economic theory evolved from a natural basis to one in which policy played a critical role; this evolution marked the emergence and containment of the collective worker.

Publication Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HB Economic Theory
H Social Sciences > HT Communities. Classes. Races
J Political Science > JA Political science (General)
Departments: Doctoral Theses
School of Policy & Global Affairs > Economics
School of Policy & Global Affairs > School of Policy & Global Affairs Doctoral Theses
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