Political Power and Institutional Change: Lessons from the Middle East
Sevket Pamuk ()
Economic History of Developing Regions, 2012, vol. 27, issue S1, S41-S56
This paper focuses on the internal organisation of the societies of the Middle East and how that may have influenced the economic institutions to explain the economic trajectory of the region since the medieval era. Societies of the Middle East experienced a good deal of institutional change since the rise of Islam. While many of these changes were in response to the changing circumstances, they also reflected the social structure and prevailing power balances. Beginning in the medieval era and continuing with the Ottomans in the early modern period, political power was concentrated in the hands of the sovereign and the state elites around him. In contrast, the influence of various social groups, not only of landowners but also of merchants, manufacturers and moneychangers, over economic matters, and more generally over the policies of the central government remained limited. As a result, societies in the Middle East did not develop institutions more independent of the state and the state elites and more in favour of the private sector.
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