Gifts of Athena by Joel Mokyr
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Gifts of Athena
By Joel Mokyr

The Gifts of Athena

Historical Origins of the Knowledge Economy

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Format: Paperback

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Gifts of Athena by Joel Mokyr

Book Awards

  • Winner of APSA Science, Technology and Environmental Politics Organized Section Don K. Price Award 2003.
  • Shortlisted for Choice Magazine Outstanding Reference/Academic Book Award 2003.

Book Description

The growth of technological and scientific knowledge in the past two centuries has been the overriding dynamic element in the economic and social history of the world. Its result is now often called the knowledge economy. But what are the historical origins of this revolution and what have been its mechanisms? In The Gifts of Athena, Joel Mokyr constructs an original framework to analyze the concept of "useful" knowledge. He argues that the growth explosion in the modern West in the past two centuries was driven not just by the appearance of new technological ideas but also by the improved access to these ideas in society at large--as made possible by social networks comprising universities, publishers, professional sciences, and kindred institutions. Through a wealth of historical evidence set in clear and lively prose, he shows that changes in the intellectual and social environment and the institutional background in which knowledge was generated and disseminated brought about the Industrial Revolution, followed by sustained economic growth and continuing technological change. Mokyr draws a link between intellectual forces such as the European enlightenment and subsequent economic changes of the nineteenth century, and follows their development into the twentieth century. He further explores some of the key implications of the knowledge revolution. Among these is the rise and fall of the "factory system" as an organizing principle of modern economic organization. He analyzes the impact of this revolution on information technology and communications as well as on the public's state of health and the structure of households. By examining the social and political roots of resistance to new knowledge, Mokyr also links growth in knowledge to political economy and connects the economic history of technology to the New Institutional Economics. The Gifts of Athena provides crucial insights into a matter of fundamental concern to a range of disciplines including economics, economic history, political economy, the history of technology, and the history of science.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780691120133
ISBN-10: 0691120137
Format: Paperback
(229mm x 152mm x 23mm)
Pages: 384
Imprint: Princeton University Press
Publisher: Princeton University Press
Publish Date: 18-Oct-2004
Country of Publication: United States

Other Editions...

Books By Author Joel Mokyr

Culture of Growth by Joel Mokyr Culture of Growth, Hardback (November 2016)

" The description for this book, A Culture of Growth: The Origins of the Modern Economy, will be forthcoming. "--

Invention of Enterprise by Joel Mokyr Invention of Enterprise, Paperback (February 2012)

Whether hailed as heroes or cast as threats to social order, entrepreneurs - and their innovations - have had an enormous influence on the growth and prosperity of nations. This title gathers together economic historians to explore the entrepreneur's role in society from antiquity to the present.

Enlightened Economy by Joel Mokyr Enlightened Economy, Paperback (May 2011)

Why did Western countries become so much wealthier than the rest of the world? And what explains the huge rise in incomes during the Industrial Revolution - and why did Britain lead the way? This title offers a perspective for understanding Britain's extraordinary rise during the Industrial Revolution.

» View all books by Joel Mokyr


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Author Biography - Joel Mokyr

Joel Mokyr is the Robert H. Strotz Professor of Arts and Sciences, and Professor of Economics and History, at Northwestern University. He is the author of the widely acclaimed "The Lever of Riches" and editor of the "Oxford University Press Encyclopedia of Economic History". He is a former editor of the "Journal of Economic History" and President Elect of the Economic History Association.

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