Great divergence

Great divergence

The Great Divergence is the period beginning in the 18th century in which the "West" (namely Britain, followed closely by the rest of Western Europe) clearly emerged as the most powerful region of the world, eclipsing the formerly dominant great Islamic empires (the Ottoman empire and Mughal India) and to a lesser extent even Qing China.

In the early 1700s, many believe, Western Europe and East Asia were roughly similar materially, but coming up against Malthusian constraints (population exceeding food supply) to further growth. Due to the many technological advancements that took place in Europe (including the invention of the steam engine by Thomas Newcomen), the subsequent mechanization of many European industries, the wealth and power of the world shifted from Asia to Europe (specifically to Britain).

Researchers offer competing explanations for this phenomenon. For example, Kenneth Pomeranz, in "The Great Divergence" (2000, Princeton University Press), emphasizes the proximity of coal deposits and the easily exploitable Americas. Other observers believe intrinsic features of European culture made it destined to surpass other regions, while Jared Diamond, in his book "Guns, Germs and Steel", sees geography, with Europe's geographical layout promoting competition which led to greater technological advancement, as being the ultimate factor. In contrast, according to Diamond, China's layout allowed it to become precociously united which removed a major incentive for technological advancement, and allowing China to become subject to a single emperor's arbitrary whim. In "A Farewell to Alms" Gregory Clark argues that it was cultural and genetic factors that allowed Britain to grow wealthy while others fell behind.

ee also

*European miracle
*Colonial empire
*Western empires

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Great Books of the Western World — is a series of books originally published in the United States in 1952 by Encyclopædia Britannica Inc. to present the western canon in a single package of 54 volumes. The series is now in its second edition and contains 60 volumes. The list of… …   Wikipedia

  • Divergence problem — Twenty year smoothed plots of averaged ring width (dashed) and tree ring density (thick line), averaged across all sites, and shown as standardized anomalies from a common base (1881 1940), and compared with equivalent area averages of mean… …   Wikipedia

  • Great ape — Taxobox name = HominidsMSW3 Groves|pages=181 184|id=12100786] fossil range = Miocene to Recent image width = 250px image caption = Australopithecus africanus reconstruction regnum = Animalia phylum = Chordata classis = Mammalia ordo = Primates… …   Wikipedia

  • Great Irish Warpipes — For list of All Ireland War pipe champions see here: War pipe champions The Great Irish Warpipes, also called The Bagpipes, or The Pipes, (Irish: píob mhór ; literally great bagpipes ), are an instrument that in modern practice is identical, and… …   Wikipedia

  • Settlement of Great Britain and Ireland — The British Isles have a long history of migration from across Europe, starting in the Palaeolithic period. Over the millennia successive waves of immigrants have come to the Isles, a process that is continuing today. The ancient migrations have… …   Wikipedia

  • The Great Santini — Infobox Film name = The Great Santini caption = Theatrical release poster imdb id = 0079239 producer = Charles A. Pratt director = Lewis John Carlino writer = Lewis John Carlino Herman Raucher (from the novel by Pat Conroy) starring = Robert… …   Wikipedia

  • Human genetic variation — is the natural variation in gene frequencies observed between the genomes of individuals or groups of humans. Variation can be measured at both the individual level (differences between individual people) and at the population level, i.e.… …   Wikipedia

  • Economic history of China before 1911 — For developments after 1911, see Economic history of Modern China. A Chinese dragon seen floating among clouds, engraved on a golden canteen dated to the 15th century, during the …   Wikipedia

  • Globalization — The European Central Bank in Frankfurt, Germany, is the central bank for the Eurozone. Globalization refers to the increasing unification of the world s economic order through reduction of such barriers to international trade as tariffs, export… …   Wikipedia

  • Chinese industrialization — In the 1960s, about 60% of the Chinese labor force were employed in agriculture. The figure remained more or less constant throughout the early phase of industrialization between the 1960s and 1990s, but in view of the rapid population growth… …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.