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The Political Economy of Mass Printing: Legitimacy and Technological Change in the Ottoman Empire

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  • Metin M. Cosgel

    (University of Connecticut)

  • Thomas J. Miceli

    (University of Connecticut)

  • Jared Rubin

    (Chapman University)

Abstract

New technologies have not always been greeted with full enthusiasm. Although the Ottomans were quick to adopt advancements in military technology, they waited almost three centuries to sanction printing in Ottoman Turkish (in Arabic characters). Printing spread relatively rapidly throughout Europe following the invention of the printing press in 1450 despite resistance by interest groups and temporary restrictions in some countries. We explain differential reaction to technology through a political economy approach centered on the legitimizing relationships between rulers and their agents (e.g., military, religious, or secular authorities). The Ottomans regulated the printing press heavily to prevent the loss it would have caused to the ruler’s net revenue by undermining the legitimacy provided by religious authorities. On the other hand, the legitimizing relationship between European religious and political authorities was undermined over a century prior to the invention of the press. European rulers thus had little reason to stop the spread of printing as public policy, nor could the Church have stopped it had it wanted to. The Ottomans eventually sanctioned printing in Arabic script in the eighteenth century after alternative sources of legitimacy emerged.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by University of Connecticut, Department of Economics in its series Working papers with number 2010-02.

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Length: 44 pages
Date of creation: Jan 2010
Date of revision: Jan 2012
Handle: RePEc:uct:uconnp:2010-02

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Keywords: Technology; Printing; Political Economy; Legitimacy; Ottoman Empire;

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References

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  1. Luigi Guiso & Paola Sapienza & Luigi Zingales, 2008. "Long Term Persistence," EIEF Working Papers Series 0810, Einaudi Institute for Economics and Finance (EIEF), revised Aug 2008.
  2. Rubin, Jared, 2011. "Printing and Protestants: reforming the economics of the Reformation," MPRA Paper 31267, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  3. Krusell, P. & Rios-Rull, J.V., 1993. "Vested Interests in a Positive Theory of Stagnation and Growth," Papers 547, Stockholm - International Economic Studies.
  4. Metin M. Cosgel & Thomas J. Miceli, 2003. "Risk, Transaction Costs, and Tax Assignment: Government Finance in the Ottoman Empire," Working papers 2003-04, University of Connecticut, Department of Economics, revised Sep 2004.
  5. Metin Cosgel & Rasha Ahmed & Thomas Miceli, 2007. "Law, State Power, and Taxation in Islamic History," Working papers 2007-01, University of Connecticut, Department of Economics, revised Jul 2008.
  6. Jean-Philippe Platteau, 2008. "Religion, Politics, and Development: Lessons from the Lands of Islam," Working Papers 434, Economic Research Forum, revised Sep 2008.
  7. Jeremiah E. Dittmar, 2011. "Information Technology and Economic Change: The Impact of The Printing Press," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 126(3), pages 1133-1172.
  8. David Chilosi & Oliver Volckart, 2010. "Books or bullion? Printing, mining and financial integration in Central Europe from the 1460s," Economic History Working Papers 28986, London School of Economics and Political Science, Department of Economic History.
  9. Potrafke, Niklas, 2012. "Islam and democracy," Munich Reprints in Economics 19273, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
  10. Metin Cosgel & Thomas Miceli, 2008. "State and Religion," Working papers 2008-04, University of Connecticut, Department of Economics, revised Mar 2009.
  11. zmucur, S leyman & Pamuk, Sevket, 2002. "Real Wages And Standards Of Living In The Ottoman Empire, 1489 1914," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 62(02), pages 293-321, June.
  12. Joerg Baten & Jan Zanden, 2008. "Book production and the onset of modern economic growth," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 13(3), pages 217-235, September.
  13. Laurence Iannaccone & Eli Berman, 2006. "Religious extremism: The good, the bad, and the deadly," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 128(1), pages 109-129, July.
  14. Buringh, Eltjo & Van Zanden, Jan Luiten, 2009. "Charting the “Rise of the West”: Manuscripts and Printed Books in Europe, A Long-Term Perspective from the Sixth through Eighteenth Centuries," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 69(02), pages 409-445, June.
  15. Avner Greif & Steven Tadelis, 2010. "A Theory of Moral Persistence: Crypto-Morality and Political Legitimacy," Discussion Papers 09-028, Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research.
  16. Ekelund, Robert B. & Hebert, Robert F. & Tollison, Robert D. & Anderson, Gary M. & Davidson, Audrey B., 1997. "Sacred Trust: The Medieval Church as an Economic Firm," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780195103373, October.
  17. Chaudhary, Latika & Rubin, Jared, 2011. "Reading, writing, and religion: Institutions and human capital formation," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 39(1), pages 17-33, March.
  18. Jared Rubin, 2011. "Institutions, the Rise of Commerce and the Persistence of Laws: Interest Restrictions in Islam and Christianity," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 121(557), pages 1310-1339, December.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Rubin, Jared, 2011. "Printing and Protestants: reforming the economics of the Reformation," MPRA Paper 31267, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  2. McCloskey, Deirdre Nansen, 2009. "Britain, China, and the Irrelevance of Stage Theories," MPRA Paper 18291, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  3. Johnson, Noel D. & Koyama, Mark, 2013. "Legal centralization and the birth of the secular state," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 41(4), pages 959-978.
  4. Metin Cosgel, 2012. "The Political Economy of Law and Economic Development in Islamic History," Working papers 2012-44, University of Connecticut, Department of Economics.

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