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The Politics of TradeThe Overseas Merchant in State and Society, 1660-1720$
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Perry Gauci

Print publication date: 2001

Print ISBN-13: 9780199241934

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199241934.001.0001

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Mercantile Association and Commercial Politics

Mercantile Association and Commercial Politics

(p.107) Chapter Three Mercantile Association and Commercial Politics
The Politics of Trade


Oxford University Press

Previous studies of formal merchant organizations have highlighted the potential sophistication of the political machinery available to merchants, even though concentration on party affiliation has largely precluded a more searching examination of mercantile associations during the age of commercial ‘revolution’. These studies have also been largely compartmentalized into studies of individual companies, or limited geographical areas, which approach minimizes the significance of more general developments. However, this chapter shows that mercantile associations cannot be considered in isolation, and that a rigid subdivision of trade does not take into account important coordinating agencies which gave commercial ‘politics’ much of its force. Beyond the companies, analysis of informal merchant organization is only beginning, and we are still unaware of the wider significance of routine collective action in the commercial world, which can be perceived in the arbitrational process used to resolve trade disputes.

Keywords:   merchants, overseas trade, mercantile associations, livery companies

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