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The political economy of mass printing: Legitimacy and technological change in the Ottoman Empire

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  • Coşgel, Metin M.
  • Miceli, Thomas J.
  • Rubin, Jared

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 18th century after alternative sources of legitimacy emerged.

Suggested Citation

  • Coşgel, Metin M. & Miceli, Thomas J. & Rubin, Jared, 2012. "The political economy of mass printing: Legitimacy and technological change in the Ottoman Empire," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 40(3), pages 357-371.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jcecon:v:40:y:2012:i:3:p:357-371
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jce.2012.01.002
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    Cited by:

    1. repec:eee:exehis:v:64:y:2017:i:c:p:1-20 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. 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.
    3. repec:eee:jcecon:v:46:y:2018:i:1:p:20-34 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Auriol, Emmanuelle & Platteau, Jean-Philippe, 2017. "Religious co-option in autocracy: A theory inspired by history," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 127(C), pages 395-412.
    5. Metin M. Cosgel & Matthew Histen & Thomas J. Miceli & Sadullah Yıldırım, 2015. "State and Religion Over Time," Working papers 2015-07, University of Connecticut, Department of Economics, revised Oct 2016.
    6. Jared Rubin, 2014. "Printing and Protestants: An Empirical Test of the Role of Printing in the Reformation," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 96(2), pages 270-286, May.
    7. KOYAMA, Mark & MORIGUCHI, Chiaki & SNG, Tuan-Hwee, 2017. "Geopolitics and Asia’s Little Divergence: State Building in China and Japan After 1850," Discussion paper series HIAS-E-51, Hitotsubashi Institute for Advanced Study, Hitotsubashi University.
    8. Murat Iyigun & Jared Rubin, 2017. "The Ideological Roots of Institutional Change," Working Papers 17-06, Chapman University, Economic Science Institute.
    9. Auriol, Emmanuelle & Platteau, Jean-Philippe, 2016. "Religious Seduction in Autocracy: A Theory Inspired by History," CEPR Discussion Papers 11258, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    10. Metin Cosgel, 2012. "The Political Economy of Law and Economic Development in Islamic History," Working papers 2012-44, University of Connecticut, Department of Economics.
    11. McCloskey, Deirdre Nansen, 2009. "Britain, China, and the Irrelevance of Stage Theories," MPRA Paper 18291, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    12. 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.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Ottoman Empire; Printing press; Technology adoption; Legitimacy; Military technology;

    JEL classification:

    • N34 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - Europe: 1913-
    • N35 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - Asia including Middle East
    • N44 - Economic History - - Government, War, Law, International Relations, and Regulation - - - Europe: 1913-
    • N45 - Economic History - - Government, War, Law, International Relations, and Regulation - - - Asia including Middle East
    • N74 - Economic History - - Economic History: Transport, International and Domestic Trade, Energy, and Other Services - - - Europe: 1913-
    • N75 - Economic History - - Economic History: Transport, International and Domestic Trade, Energy, and Other Services - - - Asia including Middle East
    • O33 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Technological Change: Choices and Consequences; Diffusion Processes
    • O38 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Government Policy
    • P48 - Economic Systems - - Other Economic Systems - - - Political Economy; Legal Institutions; Property Rights; Natural Resources; Energy; Environment; Regional Studies
    • P50 - Economic Systems - - Comparative Economic Systems - - - General
    • Z12 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Religion

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