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Guns and Books: Legitimacy, Revolt and Technological Change in the Ottoman Empire

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Listed:
  • Metin M. Cosgel

    (University of Connecticut)

  • Thomas J. Miceli

    (University of Connecticut)

  • Jared Rubin

    (California State University, Fullerton)

Abstract

New technologies have not always been greeted with great enthusiasm. Although the Ottomans were quick to adopt advancements in military technology, they waited for almost three hundred years to allow the first book to be printed in Arabic script. We explain differential reaction to technology through a political economy approach centered on the legitimizing relationship between the rulers and their agents (e.g., military or religious authorities). The Ottomans readily accepted new military technologies such as gunpowder and firearms because they increased the net revenue available to the ruler and reduced the expected value of revolting against him. But they objected to the printing press because it would have decreased the ruler's net revenue by undermining the legitimacy provided by religious authorities, and it would have raised the probability and expected value of a revolution. The printing press was allowed in the eighteenth century after alternative sources of legitimacy emerged.

Suggested Citation

  • Metin M. Cosgel & Thomas J. Miceli & Jared Rubin, 2009. "Guns and Books: Legitimacy, Revolt and Technological Change in the Ottoman Empire," Working papers 2009-12, University of Connecticut, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:uct:uconnp:2009-12
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Iyigun, Murat & Rubin, Jared, 2017. "The Ideological Roots of Institutional Change," IZA Discussion Papers 10703, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    2. 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.
    3. repec:eee:exehis:v:64:y:2017:i:c:p:1-20 is not listed on IDEAS
    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.
    5. 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.
    6. repec:eee:jcecon:v:46:y:2018:i:1:p:20-34 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. McCloskey, Deirdre Nansen, 2009. "Britain, China, and the Irrelevance of Stage Theories," MPRA Paper 18291, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    8. 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.
    9. 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.
    10. 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.
    11. Coşgel, Metin & Histen, Matthew & Miceli, Thomas J. & Yıldırım, Sadullah, 2018. "State and religion over time," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 46(1), pages 20-34.
    12. 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.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    technology; state; military; printing; religion; legitimacy; revolt; Ottoman Empire;

    JEL classification:

    • H2 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue
    • N45 - Economic History - - Government, War, Law, International Relations, and Regulation - - - Asia including Middle East
    • N75 - Economic History - - Economic History: Transport, International and Domestic Trade, Energy, and Other Services - - - Asia including Middle East
    • O3 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights
    • O53 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economywide Country Studies - - - Asia including Middle East
    • P48 - Economic Systems - - Other Economic Systems - - - Political Economy; Legal Institutions; Property Rights; Natural Resources; Energy; Environment; Regional Studies
    • Z12 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Religion

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