Capital and Colonialism in Theory

  • Klas RönnbäckEmail author
  • Oskar Broberg
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Economic History book series (PEHS)


In this chapter, we describe the theoretical framework of the book. It is described how several classical economists saw colonies as a possible vent for surplus capital in Europe. Marxists later came to focus primarily upon what has been called ‘super-profits’, that supposedly could be earned from investing in colonies. More recent scholarship has primarily viewed imperialism and colonialism as driven by various special economic interests. According to yet another line of thought, colonialism could have reduced the risk of investing in colonies.


  1. Accominotti, Olivier, Marc Flandreau, Riad Rezzik, and Frédéric Zumer. 2010. Black Man’s Burden, White Man’s Welfare: Control, Devolution and Development in the British Empire, 1880–1914. European Review of Economic History 14 (1): 47–70.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Accominotti, Olivier, Marc Flandreau, and Riad Rezzik. 2011. The Spread of Empire: Clio and the Measurement of Colonial Borrowing Costs. The Economic History Review 64 (2): 385–407.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Akerlof, George A. 1970. The Market for ‘Lemons’: Quality Uncertainty and the Market Mechanism. The Quarterly Journal of Economics 84 (3): 488–500.Google Scholar
  4. Amin, Samir. 2010. The Law of Worldwide Value. New York: Monthly Review Press.Google Scholar
  5. ———. 2018. Modern Imperialism, Monopoly Finance Capital, and Marx’s Law of Value. New York: Monthly Review Press.Google Scholar
  6. Austin, Gareth. 2014. Capitalism and the Colonies. In The Cambridge History of Capitalism. Volume II: The Spread of Capitalism: From 1848 to the Present, ed. Larry Neal and Jeffrey Williamson, 301–347. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  7. Baran, Paul A., and Paul M. Sweezy. 1966. Monopoly Capital: An Essay on the American Economic and Social Order. New York: Monthly Review Press.Google Scholar
  8. Barratt Brown, Michael. 1963. After Imperialism. London: Heinemann.Google Scholar
  9. Cain, Peter J. 2002. Hobson and Imperialism: Radicalism, New Liberalism, and Finance 1887–1938. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Cain, Peter J., and Anthony G. Hopkins. 1980. The Political Economy of British Expansion Overseas, 1750–1914. The Economic History Review 33 (4): 463–490.Google Scholar
  11. ———. 1986. Gentlemanly Capitalism and British Expansion Overseas I. The Old Colonial System, 1688–1850. The Economic History Review 39 (4): 501–525.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. ———. 1987. Gentlemanly Capitalism and British Expansion Overseas II: New Imperialism, 1850–1945. The Economic History Review 40 (1): 1–26.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. ———. 2001. British Imperialism, 1688–2000. Harlow: Longman.Google Scholar
  14. ———. 2002. The Peculiarities of British Capitalism: Imperialism and World Development. In Gentlemanly Capitalism, Imperialism and Global History, ed. Shigeru Akita, 207–255. New York: Springer. Scholar
  15. Cannadine, David. 1995. The Empire Strikes Back. Past & Present 147: 180–194.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Casson, Mark, and Teresa da Silva Lopes. 2013. Foreign Direct Investment in High-Risk Environments: An Historical Perspective. Business History 55 (3): 375–404.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Clemens, Michael A., and Jeffrey G. Williamson. 2004. Wealth Bias in the First Global Capital Market Boom, 1870–1913. Economic Journal 114 (495): 304–337.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Darwin, John. 2009. The Empire Project: The Rise and Fall of the British World-System, 1830–1970. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Davenport-Hines, R.P.T., and Jean-Jacques Van Helten. 1986. Edgar Vincent, Viscount D’Abernon, and the Eastern Investment Company in London, Constantinople and Johannesburg. Business History 28 (1): 35–61.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Davis, Lance. 1999. The Late Nineteenth-Century British Imperialist: Specification, Quantification and Controlled Conjectures. In Gentlemanly Capitalism and British Imperialism: The New Debate on Empire, ed. Raymond Dumett, 82–112. London: Longman.Google Scholar
  21. Davis, Lance, and Robert Huttenback. 1982. The Political Economy of British Imperialism: Measures of Benefits and Support. The Journal of Economic History 42 (01): 119–130.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. ———. 1985. The Export of British Finance, 1865–1914. The Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History 13 (3): 28–76.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. ———. 1986. Mammon and the Pursuit of Empire: The Political Economy of British Imperialism, 1860–1912. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  24. ———. 1988. Mammon and the Pursuit of Empire: The Economics of British Imperialism. Abridged ed. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  25. Dimson, Elroy, Paul Marsh, and Mike Staunton. 2002. Triumph of the Optimists: 101 Years of Global Investment Returns. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Eckstein, Arthur M. 1991. Is There a ‘Hobson-Lenin Is’ on Late Nineteenth-Century Colonial Expansion? The Economic History Review 44 (2): 297–318.Google Scholar
  27. Etherington, Norman. 1984. Theories of Imperialism: War, Conquest and Capital. London: Croom Helm.Google Scholar
  28. Ferguson, Niall. 2003. Empire: The Rise and Demise of the British World Order and the Lessons for Global Power. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  29. Ferguson, Niall, and Moritz Schularick. 2006. The Empire Effect: The Determinants of Country Risk in the First Age of Globalization, 1880–1913. The Journal of Economic History 66 (2): 283–312.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Fieldhouse, D.K. 1961. Imperialism’: An Historiographical Revision. The Economic History Review 14 (2): 187–209.Google Scholar
  31. ———. 1973. Economics and Empire 1830–1914, World Economic History. London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson.Google Scholar
  32. ———. 1994. Gentlemen, Capitalists, and the British Empire. The Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History 22 (3): 531–541.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Flandreau, Marc, and Frédéric Zumer. 2004. The Making of Global Finance 1880–1913. Paris: OECD.Google Scholar
  34. Frieden, Jeffry A. 1994. International Investment and Colonial Control: A New Interpretation. International Organization 48 (4): 559–593.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Gann, Lewis H. 1969. Reflections on Imperialism and the Scramble for Africa. In Colonialism in Africa 1870–1960. Volume 1: The History and Politics of Colonialism 1870–1914, ed. L.H. Gann and Peter Duignan, 100–131. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  36. Gann, Lewis H., and Peter Duignan. 1968. Burden of Empire: An Appraisal of Western Colonialism in Africa South of the Sahara. London: Hoover Institution.Google Scholar
  37. Goetzmann, William N., and Andrey D. Ukhov. 2006. British Investment Overseas 1870–1913: A Modern Portfolio Theory Approach. Review of Finance 10 (2): 261–300.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Harvey, David. 2003. The New Imperialism. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  39. Hillbom, Ellen, and Erik Green. 2010. Afrika: En Kontinents Ekonomiska Och Sociala Historia. Stockholm: SNS förlag.Google Scholar
  40. Hobson, John Atkinson. 1988. Imperialism: A Study. London: Unwin Hyman.Google Scholar
  41. Hyam, Ronald. 2010. Understanding the British Empire. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Hynes, William G. 1979. The Economics of Empire: Britain, Africa and the New Imperialism, 1870–95. London: Longman.Google Scholar
  43. Kubicek, Robert V. 1999. Economic Power at the Periphery: Canada, Australia, and South Africa, 1850–1914. In Gentlemanly Capitalism and British Imperialism: The New Debate on Empire, ed. Raymond Dumett, 113–127. London: Longman.Google Scholar
  44. MacKenzie, Donald A. 2006. An Engine, Not a Camera: How Financial Models Shape Markets. Cambridge: The MIT Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Malkiel, Burton G., and Eugene F. Fama. 1970. Efficient Capital Markets: A Review of Theory and Empirical Work. The Journal of Finance 25 (2): 383–417.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Markowitz, H. 1959. Portfolio Selection: Efficient Diversification of Investments. New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  47. Marx, Karl. 1969. On Colonialism & Modernization. Edited by Shlmo Avineri. New York: Anchor.Google Scholar
  48. McCloskey, Donald. 1970. Did Victorian Britain Fail? Economic History Review 23 (3): 446–459.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Menon, Rajan, and John R. Oneal. 1986. Explaining Imperialism: The State of the Art as Reflected in Three Theories. Polity 19 (2): 169–193.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Michie, Ranald C. 2001. The London Stock Exchange: A History. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. ———. 2004. The City of London and the British Government: The Changing Relationship. In The British Government and the City of London in the Twentieth Century, ed. Ranald Michie and Philip Williamson, 31–55. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. ———. 2006. The Global Securities Market a History. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Müller, Simone M. 2016. Wiring the World: The Social and Cultural Creation of Global Telegraph Networks. New York: Columbia University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Noonan, Murray. 2017. Marxist Theories of Imperialism: A History. London: I.B. Tauris.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. O’Brien, Patrick K. 1988. The Costs and Benefits of British Imperialism 1846–1914. Past and Present 120 (1): 163–200.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. O’Rourke, Kevin H., and Jeffrey G. Williamson. 1999. Globalization and History: The Evolution of a Nineteenth-Century Atlantic Economy. Cambridge: MIT Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Obstfeld, Maurice, and Alan M. Taylor. 2003. Sovereign Risk, Credibility and the Gold Standard: 1870–1913 versus 1925–31. The Economic Journal 113 (487): 241–275.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. ———. 2004. Global Capital Markets: Integration, Crisis, and Growth. New York: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Parent, Antoine, and Christophe Rault. 2004. The Influences Affecting French Assets Abroad Prior to 1914. The Journal of Economic History 64 (2): 328–362.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Phimister, Ian. 2002. Empire, Imperialism and the Partition of Africa. In Gentlemanly Capitalism, Imperialism and Global History, ed. Shigeru Akita, 65–82. New York: Springer. Scholar
  61. Platt, D.C.M. 1968. Finance, Trade, and Politics in British Foreign Policy 1815–1914. Oxford: Clarendon press.Google Scholar
  62. Porter, Bernard. 1968. Critics of Empire: British Radical Attitudes to Colonialism in Africa 1895–1914. London: Macmillan.Google Scholar
  63. Porter, Andrew. 1990. ‘Gentlemanly Capitalism’ and Empire: The British Experience since 1750? The Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History 18 (3): 265–295.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Robinson, Ronald Edward, and John Gallagher. 1968. Africa and the Victorians: The Climax of Imperialism. New York: Anchor Books.Google Scholar
  65. Rodney, Walter. 1972. How Europe Underdeveloped Africa. London: Bogle-L’Ouverture.Google Scholar
  66. Rota, Mauro, and Francesco Schettino. 2011. The Long-Run Determinants of British Capital Exports, 1870–1913. Financial History Review 18 (1): 47–69.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Schumpeter, Joseph Alois. 1951. Imperialism and Social Classes. New York: Kelley.Google Scholar
  68. Sharpe, William F. 1970. Portfolio Theory and Capital Markets. New York: McGraw-Hill.Google Scholar
  69. Thompson, Andrew S. 2000. Imperial Britain: The Empire in British Politics, c. 1880–1932. New York: Longman.Google Scholar
  70. Warren, Bill, and John Sender. 1980. Imperialism: Pioneer of Capitalism. London: NLB.Google Scholar
  71. Webster, Anthony. 2006. The Debate on the Rise of the British Empire. Manchester: Manchester University Press.Google Scholar
  72. Wilkins, Mira. 1988. The Free-Standing Company, 1870–1914: An Important Type of British Foreign Direct Investment. The Economic History Review 41 (2): 259–282.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  73. Winch, Donald. 1965. Classical Political Economy and Colonies. London: London School of Economics and Political Science.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Economy and SocietyUniversity of GothenburgGothenburgSweden

Personalised recommendations