Department of Political Economy at the Faculty of Economic Sciences University of Warsaw kindly invites all interested parties to participate in Prof. Geoffrey Hodgson’s (University of Hertfordshire) lecture entitled “What is Capitalism?”.


The lecture will take place on 24th march 2015 at 14:30 in aula B at WNE UW, Długa 44/50, Warsaw.


About the lecture


In parts of Europe around 1800, there was an explosion of economic productivity. Markets and private property had existed for millennia, but what other key institutions fostered capitalism’s relatively recent emergence and success? Until now, the conceptual toolkit available to answer this question has been inadequate, and economists and other social scientists have been diverted from identifying these key institutions.


Drawing on a new theoretical approach called legal institutionalism, Hodgson underlines the constitutive role of law and the state. While private property and markets are central to capitalism, they depend upon the development of an effective legal framework.


Applying this legally grounded approach to the emergence of capitalism in eighteenth-century Europe, Hodgson identifies the key institutional developments that coincided with its rise. He underlines the development of key financial institutions in the eighteenth-century. That analysis enables him to counter the widespread view that capitalism is a natural and inevitable outcome of human societies, showing instead that it is a relatively recent phenomenon, contingent upon a special form of state that helps to protect private property and enforce contracts.


Geoffrey Hodgson is a Research Professor in Business Studies at the University of Hertfordshire in the UK. His books include “Conceptualizing Capitalism” (winner of the 2014 Schumpeter Prize and to appear in 2015), “From Pleasure Machines to moral Communities” (2013), “Darwin’s Conjecture” (with Thorbjoern Knudsen, 2010), “The Evolution of Institutional Economics” (2004), and “How Economics Forgot History” (2001). He has published over 130 articles in prominent academic journals in economics and other social sciences. He is also the Editor in Chief of the Journal of Institutional Economics.


Prof. Hodgson has been invited by the Institute of Advanced Studies (