On May 11, 2017, Miguel Laborda Pemán MA (Economic and Social History) will defend his Phd thesis at Utrecht University, entitled Beyond Markets and Hierarchies in Pre-Industrial Europe. The Evolution of Institutions for Collective Action in Historical Perspective. In his dissertation, Laborda Pemán analyzes the process of establishment and long-term change of historical institutions for collective action.
PhD thesis defense Miguel Laborda Pemán: Analyzing the rise and persistence of small-scale cooperation in pre-industrial Europe
Starting in late medieval times western Europe witnessed revolutionary changes in the way individuals interacted and governed their common interests. Coinciding in time with commercial expansion and urban revival, individuals across very diverse settings began to formalize their collective undertakings vis-à-vis feudal authorities.
Building on previous historiography as well as on recent advances in the social and experimental sciences, the development of intense cooperation at the local level is regarded as one of the most distinctive attributes of European exceptionality – the so-called Ostromian-Tocquevillian framework. Contrasting with earlier approaches focusing on either secure individual property rights or inclusive state organizations, this dissertation argues that looking at the European special path from this framework necessarily draws the attention to a set of three interrelated questions:
- Why did cooperation thrive during late medieval times
- How did local communities preserve robustness in the long run?
- How did corporations interact with emerging state structures from early modern times onwards?
In his dissertation Laborda Pemán sketches a theoretical framework suggesting preliminary answers to the first two questions. Subsequently, he turns to quantitative and qualitative evidence on craft guilds and commons, arguably the most significant examples of formalized cooperation before 1800, in order to tests a number of hypotheses stemming from the framework.