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Essays on markets, prices, and consumption in the Ottoman Empire (late-seventeenth to mid-nineteenth centuries)

Ceylan, Pinar (2016) Essays on markets, prices, and consumption in the Ottoman Empire (late-seventeenth to mid-nineteenth centuries). PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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Identification Number: 10.21953/lse.xn2brazfdyhl


This thesis consists of separate papers that examine markets, prices, and consumption in the Ottoman Empire between the late seventeenth and mid-nineteenth centuries. Recent scholarship has posited that market development, new consumption patterns, and productivity gains in non-agricultural sectors that were marked by changing price-product structures are among the structural alterations that paved the way for industrialisation at the turn of the nineteenth century. This research investigates whether these phenomena were particular to the West or can be expanded to other parts of the world. As such, the study contributes to the literature seeking to understand where the “distinctive advantage” of Northwestern Europe lay. The findings reveal that on the eve of the first wave of globalisation, domestic wheat markets in the Ottoman Empire were no better integrated than they were two centuries previously. Nevertheless, Europe and the Ottoman Empire shared several characteristics of early-modern consumerism. This research demonstrated that the interiors of Ottoman houses grew richer and more varied throughout this period. From the second half of the eighteenth century onwards, Ottomans who were not richer and who were not better-positioned in the social hierarchy than their counterparts in 1700 owned a greater quantity and variety of domestic goods. In both regions, a decline in the real prices of consumer goods was a major factor, if not the only one, that triggered this change. Moreover, the analysis on prices and inventory valuations refutes the argument that the decline in prices of non-food items was a distinctive pattern in Northwestern Europe in the pre-industrial era; instead, this was mirrored in the Ottoman Empire. Overall, the findings of this research point to long-term market development (and its absence), rather than changing consumption patterns, as well as productivity gains in non-agricultural sectors as a major source of divergence prior to the Industrial Revolution between parts of Europe and the Ottoman Empire.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2016 Pinar Ceylan
Library of Congress subject classification: H Social Sciences > HC Economic History and Conditions
Sets: Departments > Economic History
Supervisor: Wallis, Patrick and Pamuk, Sevket

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