Rethinking British Decline

By Richard English; Michael Kenny | Go to book overview

6
Sidney Pollard

Introduction

Sidney Pollard enjoyed a distinguished career as one of Britain's leading economic historians and a highly respected observer of economic policy. He published widely on different periods in British economic history, as well as on the history of Sheffield and developments in the international economy. Born in 1925, he was educated at the London School of Economics and then became Knoop Fellow at Sheffield University. He held academic posts at Sheffield University since 1952, becoming Professor of Economic History in 1963, and at the University of Bielefeld in Germany, 1980-90, and became a Fellow of the British Academy in 1989. He died in 1998.

Pollard has addressed the question of decline in a number of important texts. 1 These draw upon an intimate knowledge of many of the controversies and arguments which have animated economic historians on questions relating to decline. He has recently focused upon arguments about whether the origins of decline can be detected in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. In Britain's Prime and Britairn's Decline, 2 he considers in some depth different explanations of Britain's supposed decline in the late nineteenth century. His starting point is the difficulty of pinpointing the precise causes of the recession which appeared to take hold in this period. A particularly popular theory stresses the uniqueness of Britain's early start in terms of industrialisation, so that 'early success in capital goods exports was accompanied by capital exports, which in turn created financial intermediaries geared to channel exports abroad rather than into British industry'. 3 Other commentators stress the alleged decline of entrepreneurship and managerial skills in this period, and for some the weakness in scientific and technological training and research was all important. In terms of theories that stress other variables, he notes the popularity of explanations that highlight the role of Britain's ageing industrial structure. There are

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Rethinking British Decline
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Rethinking British Decline *
  • Contents vii
  • Preface and Acknowledgements ix
  • Notes on the Contributors xii
  • 1 - Theories and Explanations of British Decline 1
  • Part I - Reflections on British Decline *
  • 2 - Martin Wiener 25
  • 3 - Correlli Barnett 37
  • 4 - Will Hutton 50
  • 5 - W. D. Rubinstein 61
  • 6 - Sidney Pollard 76
  • 7 - Samuel Brittan 92
  • 8 - Stuart Hall 104
  • 9 - David Marquand 117
  • 10 - Jonathan Clark 137
  • Part II - Thematic Analysis *
  • 11 - Party Ideology and National Decline 155
  • 12 - Institutional Approaches to Britain's Relative Economic Decline 184
  • 13 - British Decline and European Integration 210
  • 14 - Globalisation and Britain's Decline 231
  • 15 - The End of Empire 257
  • 16 - Conclusion: Decline or Declinism? 279
  • Select Bibliography 300
  • Index 305
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