Overview

Many historical processes exhibit recurrent patterns of change. Century-long periods of population expansion come before long periods of stagnation and decline; the dynamics of prices mirror population oscillations; and states go through strong expansionist phases followed by periods of state failure, endemic sociopolitical instability, and territorial loss. Peter Turchin and Sergey Nefedov explore the dynamics and causal connections between such demographic, economic, and political variables in agrarian ...

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Secular Cycles

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Overview

Many historical processes exhibit recurrent patterns of change. Century-long periods of population expansion come before long periods of stagnation and decline; the dynamics of prices mirror population oscillations; and states go through strong expansionist phases followed by periods of state failure, endemic sociopolitical instability, and territorial loss. Peter Turchin and Sergey Nefedov explore the dynamics and causal connections between such demographic, economic, and political variables in agrarian societies and offer detailed explanations for these long-term oscillations--what the authors call secular cycles.

Secular Cycles elaborates and expands upon the demographic-structural theory first advanced by Jack Goldstone, which provides an explanation of long-term oscillations. This book tests that theory's specific and quantitative predictions by tracing the dynamics of population numbers, prices and real wages, elite numbers and incomes, state finances, and sociopolitical instability. Turchin and Nefedov study societies in England, France, and Russia during the medieval and early modern periods, and look back at the Roman Republic and Empire. Incorporating theoretical and quantitative history, the authors examine a specific model of historical change and, more generally, investigate the utility of the dynamical systems approach in historical applications.

An indispensable and groundbreaking resource for a wide variety of social scientists, Secular Cycles will interest practitioners of economic history, historical sociology, complexity studies, and demography.

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Editorial Reviews

EH.net
This book is an audacious and ambitious attempt to promote the viewpoint that historical progression runs according to certain regular patterns. . . . I am fascinated by this book, particularly by the theoretical framework which is laid out in the introductory and concluding chapters. . . . [T]he main strength of the book lies in its scope, reminiscent of the broad perspectives of classical economists. It is the type of scholarship which proves that historical narrative can be fascinating.
— Harry Kitsikopoulos
American Journal of Sociology
Those who are interested in grand social theories will want to read and reflect. I suspect that there will be many who then will rebut.
— Brian J. L. Berry
Australian Economic History Review
Turchin and Nefedov have set a very ambitious task for themselves. . . . [T]hey should be applauded for producing a work of very broad historical sweep and reminding us that developing general laws—or more plausibly, general tendencies—of historical dynamics remains a tantalizing proposition.
— David S. Jacks
EH.net - Harry Kitsikopoulos
This book is an audacious and ambitious attempt to promote the viewpoint that historical progression runs according to certain regular patterns. . . . I am fascinated by this book, particularly by the theoretical framework which is laid out in the introductory and concluding chapters. . . . [T]he main strength of the book lies in its scope, reminiscent of the broad perspectives of classical economists. It is the type of scholarship which proves that historical narrative can be fascinating.
American Journal of Sociology - Brian J.L. Berry
Those who are interested in grand social theories will want to read and reflect. I suspect that there will be many who then will rebut.
Australian Economic History Review - David S. Jacks
Turchin and Nefedov have set a very ambitious task for themselves. . . . [T]hey should be applauded for producing a work of very broad historical sweep and reminding us that developing general laws—or more plausibly, general tendencies—of historical dynamics remains a tantalizing proposition.
American Journal of Sociology - Brian J. L. Berry
Those who are interested in grand social theories will want to read and reflect. I suspect that there will be many who then will rebut.
From the Publisher
"This book is an audacious and ambitious attempt to promote the viewpoint that historical progression runs according to certain regular patterns. . . . I am fascinated by this book, particularly by the theoretical framework which is laid out in the introductory and concluding chapters. . . . [T]he main strength of the book lies in its scope, reminiscent of the broad perspectives of classical economists. It is the type of scholarship which proves that historical narrative can be fascinating."—Harry Kitsikopoulos, EH.net

"Those who are interested in grand social theories will want to read and reflect. I suspect that there will be many who then will rebut."—Brian J. L. Berry, American Journal of Sociology

"Turchin and Nefedov have set a very ambitious task for themselves. . . . [T]hey should be applauded for producing a work of very broad historical sweep and reminding us that developing general laws—or more plausibly, general tendencies—of historical dynamics remains a tantalizing proposition."—David S. Jacks, Australian Economic History Review

"[T]he standard of historical scholarship is excellent and opens the floor to interesting challenges for further empirical explorations."—Laura Panza, Economic Record

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781400830688
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press
  • Publication date: 7/20/2009
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Edition description: Course Book
  • Pages: 360
  • Sales rank: 1,133,869
  • File size: 5 MB

Meet the Author

Peter Turchin is professor of ecology and evolutionary biology and adjunct professor of mathematics at the University of Connecticut. Sergey A. Nefedov is senior research scientist at the Institute of History and Archaeology of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Ural Branch.
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Table of Contents

Table of Units and Currencies ix

Chapter 1: Introduction: The Theoretical Background 1
1.1 Development of Ideas about Demographic Cycles 1
1.2 A Synthetic Theory of Secular Cycles 6
1.3 Variations and Extensions 21
1.4 Empirical Approaches 29

Chapter 2: Medieval England: The Plantagenet Cycle (1150-1485) 35
2.1 Overview of the Cycle 35
2.2 The Expansion Phase (1150-1260) 47
2.3 Stagflation (1260-1315) 49
2.4 Crisis (1315-1400) 58
2.5 Depression (1400-1485) 69
2.6 Conclusion 77

Chapter 3: Early Modern England: The Tudor-Stuart Cycle (1485-1730) 81
3.1 Overview of the Cycle 81
3.2 Expansion (1485-1580) 87
3.3 Stagflation (1580-1640) 91
3.4 Crisis (1640-60) 97
3.5 Depression (1660-1730) 101
3.6 Conclusion 107
Appendix to Chapter 3 108

Chapter 4: Medieval France: The Capetian Cycle (1150-1450) 111
4.1 Overview of the Cycle 111
4.2 Expansion (1150-1250) 115
4.3 Stagflation (1250-1315) 117
4.4 Crisis (1315-65) 121
4.5 Depression (1365-1450) 129
4.6 Conclusion: "A Near Perfect Multi-secular Cycle" 141

Chapter 5: Early Modern France: The Valois Cycle (1450-1660) 143
5.1 Overview 143
5.2 Expansion (1450-1520) 147
5.3 Stagflation (1520-70) 149
5.4 Crisis (1570-1600) 153
5.5 A Case Study: The Norman Nobility 156
5.6 Depression (1600-1660) 169
5.7 Conclusion 174

Chapter 6: Rome: The Republican Cycle (350-30 BCE) 176
6.1 Overview of the Cycle 176
6.2 An Unusually Long Expansion (350-180 BCE) 185
6.3 Stagflation (180-130 BCE) 189
6.4 The Late Republican Crisis (130-30 BCE) 201
6.5 The End of the Disintegrative Trend 205
6.6 Conclusion 208

Chapter 7: Rome: The Principate Cycle (30 BCE-285 CE) 211
7.1 Overview of the Cycle 211
7.2 Expansion (27 BCE-96 CE) 224
7.3 Stagflation (96-165 CE) 229
7.4 Crisis (165-97 CE) 233
7.5 Depression (197-285 CE) 236
7.6 Conclusion 238

Chapter 8: Russia: The Muscovy Cycle (1460-1620) 240
8.1 The Fifteenth-Century Crisis 240
8.2 Expansion (1460-1530) 241
8.3 Stagflation (1530-65) 244
8.4 Crisis (1565-1615) 252
8.5 Conclusion 258

Chapter 9: Russia: The Romanov Cycle (1620-1922) 261
9.1 Expansion (1620-1800) 261
9.2 Stagflation (1800-1905) 274
9.3 Crisis (1905-22) 287
9.4 Conclusion 299

Chapter 10: General Conclusions 303
10.1 Population Numbers 303
10.2 Elite Dynamics 304
10.3 The State 306
10.4 Sociopolitical Instability 307
10.5 Are There General Laws of Historical Dynamics? 311

Acknowledgments 315
References Cited 317
Index 341

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