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Dan Silver

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Week TwoSeptember 21, 2010
Classic Sociological Theory I-SOCB42-Lecture 2
-The life of Adam Smith:
-Born in 1723 in Scotland, died in 1790
-Influenced by the Scottish enlightenment
-Went to oxford university
-Suffered from anxiety and nervousness
-Became a full professor of moral philosophy at the age of 28
-Gave lectures in English instead of Latin
-In 1759 wrote a book the theory of moral sentiments about a general account of the
moral forces that influence human interaction
-He then became a tutor for the children of the baron
-Wrote the wealth of nations out of boredom
-Published in 1776, the book is revolutionary
-The book became one of the most influential books ever written
General Themes and Agenda
-What is the book about?
-Title: Inquiry into the nature and causes of the wealth of nation
- Nature: what does it mean for one country to be rich?
-Its natural resources
-Stored treasure-cash
-Smith rejects both of these, he proposes something new-GNP per capita
-You determine by asking how much a typical person can consume
-A place may not have a lot of natural resources or a lot of cash but if the
people who are living there are able to get everything they need by
producing a little that makes the country a rich place
-Wealth is created through a social process, how the country arranges its labour
so it can be as productive as possible
-Causes: what mechanisms increase the wealth of nations?
-If wealth consists in natural resources, what is the best way to increase the
wealth of your country?
-Take the wealth, get the resources needed

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-Military strength
-If wealth consists in stored treasure
-If wealth consists of gold and you want it
-Merantilism -> exports are good and, imports are bad
-If we want the boats or gold we have to trade and you can either have a
lot of gold or not a lot of gold
-Smith believes that this way of causing wealth makes countries poorer
-Wealth has to do with the productivity of the population as a whole
-1 type of condition is : Universal Conditions
-Increase the productivity of labour i.e the division of
labour -> which increases productivity
-2nd way : increase the portion of the population that is actually doing something
-Capital Accumulation -> increases percents of productive workers
“Historical Causes”
-the specific conditions in any given country in any given time that would assume that,
that country has some high productivity for some work
-Why does one country vs another country have more productive work force and put
more of the population into work
1. Manufacturing and Commerce vs Agriculture
-This will tell you how prosperous a country is
-Agriculture is the basis for developing the labour force in a country to its fullest
-Large scale economic developments took place in europe first in the cities and
only later in the country side where agriculture was going on
-Because of this development it took 1000 years for europe to get out of the dark
2. Prevailing theories of different countries at different times
-Theories are historically powerful - if a lot of people believe in certain theories
have direct affect on their actions
-A bad theory that can make a country rich can make them poor instead
-Wealth of the nation is included in the Title
-What is the unit of the analysis? - the unit is the country as a whole
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