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Settlers and the Agrarian Question


  • Page extent: 324 pages
  • Size: 228 x 152 mm
  • Weight: 0.48 kg


 (ISBN-13: 9780521523165 | ISBN-10: 0521523168)

This book traces the formation of Australian colonial society and economy within the context of the changing fortunes of British hegemony in the nineteenth-century world economy. Australia's transition from conservative origins as a penal colony supporting a grazier class oriented to export production, to liberal agrarian capitalism, was not a simple reflex of imperial setting. Domestically, the 'agrarian question' - who should control the land and to what end? - was the central political struggle of this period, as urban-commercial forces contested the graziers' monopoly, of the landed economy. Embedded in the conflict among settler classes was an international dimension, involving a juxtaposition of laissez-faire and mercantilist phases of British political economy. Professor McMichael argues that the transition from a patriarchal wool-growing colony to a liberal-nationalist form of capitalist development is best understood through a systematic analysis of the effect of the imperial politicoeconomic relationship on the social and political forces within nineteenth-century Australia.


Map of Australia; List of tables; Preface; 1. The social structure of British hegemony; Part I. The Colonial Economy Enters the World Market (1788–1830): 2. The transition from penal to commercial colony; 3. The world-economic origins of colonial wool growing; Part II. The Squatting Phase of Pastoralism (1830s and 1840s): 4. Squatting and colonial politics; 5. Merchants and growers; 6. Pastoral enterprise in the colonial economy; 7. The conservative character of pastoralism; Part III. Confronting the Agrarian Question (1840–1900): 8. The 1840s crisis and social transition; 9. Foundations of the agrarian question; 10. State formation and transformation of the landed economy; Conclusion; Appendixes; References; Index.

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