Who’s Afraid of Giants?

  • Riccardo RosolinoEmail author


This chapter traces the way in which Smith’s thought was distorted and revised with specific reference to the effects that the combinations phenomenon could have on the labour market and wage-setting. At the end of the eighteenth century, the notion that conspiratorial strategies aimed at creating threatening presences with monopolistic intentions could reciprocally cancel each other out slipped into the background once again. The passing of the Combination Laws was the final nail in the coffin of this idea: no one should be entitled to resort to such actions. Yet, for many people, these associative strategies were nothing more than the spontaneous organisation of society. Twenty-five years later the scenario had radically altered. This chapter illustrates the path that led to the abolition of the Combination Laws and to the countervailing powers being stripped of their old moral robes and cloaked instead in the garb of the new liberal economy.


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© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Human and Social ScienceUniversity of Naples—L’OrientaleNaplesItaly

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