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A Model of Two Styles of Imperialism

Daniel Oto-Peralías and Diego Romero-Ávila
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Daniel Oto-Peralías: University of St. Andrews
Diego Romero-Ávila: Pablo de Olavide University

Chapter Chapter 3 in Colonial Theories of Institutional Development, 2017, pp 27-39 from Springer

Abstract: Abstract This chapter provides a simple model of two styles of imperialism that integrates the colonial origin and endowment views. First, the ‘economically-oriented’ style is characterized by a strategy that aims to exploit colonial resources in order to satisfy the economic needs of the metropolis. Consequently, this style of imperialism renders a pragmatic empire, with purely economic goals and sensitive to the initial conditions of each territory, since the specific colonial policy required to maximize rents and satisfy metropolitan needs will depend on the particular characteristics of each colony. The ‘politically-oriented’ style of imperialism is characterized by a colonial strategy that consists of expanding the territorial domains of the colonizing power for non-economic reasons, such as the glory or prestige of the nation or religious-ideological motives. In this case, the lack of an economic calculus and the desire to impose political dominion lead to a uniform colonial policy insensitive to initial conditions. Importantly, colonial powers tend to adopt one style of imperialism or the other depending on their domestic circumstances. We argue that the specific conditions prevailing in Britain such as its insularity and liberal economic and political regimes favored the development of an ‘economically-oriented’ style of imperialism. In contrast, the centralist state tradition, the ideological heritage of the Great Revolution and military defeats led France to adopt a ‘politically-oriented’ style. These different models of imperialism were well reflected in the diverging characters of the British and French empires as well as in the different colonial policies adopted. Our model of colonial empires predicts that the endowment view is applicable to the ‘economically-oriented’ style of imperialism, but not to the ‘politically-oriented’ style. Therefore, we expect to observe a negative relationship between precolonial endowments and the current institutional level in the first case but not in the second.

Keywords: Model of styles of imperialism; ‘Economically-oriented’ style; ‘Politically-oriented’ style; Domestic conditions; Colonial empires (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2017
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DOI: 10.1007/978-3-319-54127-3_3

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