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Global Commerce and Economic Conscience in Europe, 1700-1900


In the twenty-first century, acting in the economic sphere in order to avoid or reduce harm to others is widely acknowledged as an ethical imperative. Ethical investment and fair trade, the politics of boycott, and corporate ‘greenwashing’ are well established in the repertoire of corporate and individual action and public debate. This repertoire has a history; neither moral indifference nor ethical engagement is ‘natural’ or self-evident. How and when do (and did)people come to see themselves as answerable for the well-being of distant others, and in particular to see that their commercial activity – as consumers, investors, or managers in global businesses – endows them with both power and responsibility to take moral action? The essays in this volume examinesome key cases in the evolution of this kind of economic conscience in Europe, from the emergence of the modern global system, based on the growth of joint-stock maritime trading companies, the financial revolution, and transatlantic slavery, to the age of high imperialism and industrial capitalism. From a range of disciplinary perspectives, they consider how changing structures of sentiment and knowledge made possible new articulations between moral obligation, locality, the spaces ofhumanity, and the ‘economic’, but also the ways in which colonialism and imperialism re-framed and channelled impulses to ethical and humanitarian action. Ten essays, focusing mainly on British and German actors at home and overseas, are framed by a wide-ranging introduction and a reflection on thehistorical dimensions of current debates on slavery in business supply chains.

SKU: 39782 Category: Tag:
Subtitle: Distance and Entanglement
Author: Brahm, Felix & Eve Rosenhaft (red.)
Year: 2022
ISBN: 9780192867858
Pages: 320
Language: English
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Publisher's city: Oxford
Publication date:
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