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John stuart mill, victorian liberalism, and the failure of co-operative production

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Betts, JP 


jats:titleABSTRACT</jats:title>jats:pJohn Stuart Mill's support for, and predictions of, co-operative production have been taken as a coherent wedding of liberal and socialist concerns, and as drawing together later nineteenth-century political economy and working-class radicalism. Despite its evident significance, the alliance of political economy and co-operative production was, however, highly conflicted, contested, and short-lived, in ways that help to shed light on the construction of knowledge of society in nineteenth-century Britain. Mill's vision should be seen as developed in contrast to the sociological and historical perspectives of Auguste Comte and Thomas Carlyle, as an attempt to hold together political economy as a valid form of knowledge with the hope of a new social stage in which commerce would be imbued with public spirit. This ideal thus involved debate about competing social futures and the tools of prediction, as well as entering debates within political economy where it was equally embattled. Even Mill's own economic logic tended more towards support of profit-sharing than co-operative production, and hopes for the latter became significantly less persuasive with the introduction of the concept of the entrepreneur into mainstream British economics during the 1870s and 1880s.</jats:p>



4303 Historical Studies, 43 History, Heritage and Archaeology

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Historical Journal

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Cambridge University Press (CUP)