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The Political Economy of Law and Economic Development in Islamic History

Author

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  • Metin Cosgel

    (University of Connecticut)

Abstract

There appear to be two seemingly contradictory images of law and economic change in the Islamic world. Whereas some scholars have viewed Islamic societies as rigid and incapable of adapting to a changing environment, others have held the opposite image of Islamic societies as flexible, quick to adapt to change, and conducive to economic development. Researchers have often focused on either stagnation or change as being the more representative image that needs explanation, rarely looking to explain why both images coexisted. Using a political economy approach, this paper explains the nuanced flexibility of Islamic law by focusing on the relationship between the ruler and the legal-religious community. This community has been an influential group in Islamic societies because of its power in the interpretation and adjudication of the law and its ability to confer legitimacy on the rulers. Change or stagnation has emerged as the outcome of the strategic interaction between the rulers and legal community, rather than from a fixed characteristic of Islamic societies or an intrinsic quality of a new development.

Suggested Citation

  • Metin Cosgel, 2012. "The Political Economy of Law and Economic Development in Islamic History," Working papers 2012-44, University of Connecticut, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:uct:uconnp:2012-44
    Note: Previously posted as paper 2007-47 in this series under the title "Stagnation and Change in Islamic History"
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Lydon, Ghislaine, 2009. "A paper economy of faith without faith in paper: A reflection on Islamic institutional history," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 71(3), pages 647-659, September.
    2. 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.
    3. Özmucur, Süleyman & Pamuk, Şevket, 2002. "Real Wages And Standards Of Living In The Ottoman Empire, 1489–1914," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 62(2), pages 293-321, June.
    4. 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.
    5. Barry R. Weingast, 2005. "The Constitutional Dilemma of Economic Liberty," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 19(3), pages 89-108, Summer.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Islamic law; change; stagnation; technology; legal community; political economy;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D7 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making
    • H2 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue
    • H3 - Public Economics - - Fiscal Policies and Behavior of Economic Agents
    • N7 - Economic History - - Economic History: Transport, International and Domestic Trade, Energy, and Other Services
    • O3 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights
    • O5 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economywide Country Studies
    • P48 - Economic Systems - - Other Economic Systems - - - Political Economy; Legal Institutions; Property Rights; Natural Resources; Energy; Environment; Regional Studies
    • P5 - Economic Systems - - Comparative Economic Systems
    • Z12 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Religion

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