Petrikov K. A. The idea of economic society in 18th century Europe and Russia (.pdf)


This article deals with the problem of the establishment of the Free Economic Society in 1765 as an integral part of the phenomenon of European economic societies of the second half of the 18th century. The issue was not previously considered in Russian historiography. The use of recent studies on the phenomenon of economic societies gives the opportunity to observe the process of emergence and spread of those associations in European countries and their American colonies. First being established in Scotland and Ireland in the 1730s and 1740s, economic societies became widely represented in most European countries after the Seven Years' War. Common features of the societies were egalitarianism, use of patriotic rhetoric, attention to practical issues, and close ties with the scientific community and the ruling elites. At the same time, the model of economic association could be successfully adapted to the social and political realities of the countries where they were established. When creating the Free Economic Society, the Empress and her advisors relied on the British experience, which implied the creation of a centralized interregional society with a wide network of correspondents. In reality, the society remained predominantly a capital society focused on the patronage relations and practices of the nobility, that constituted the majority of its members, and close interaction with the state institutions. At the same time, whereas during the first years of the society's existence the leading role in its activity was played by the members of the ruling elite, by the end of the second half of the 18th century, noble intellectuals and academic scientists took an increasing part in its activity.


Key words: economic societies, Free Economic Society, 18th century, Enlightenment, patriotism.


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