Topic Modeling the Early Modern Transition in Economic Thought

Emily Erikson, Yale University

Text analysis of a corpus of English economic works from 1580 to 1720 show a shift away from religious and moral works to the topics of trade, finance, and industry. This was a significant turning point for economic thought. The analysis applies topic models to a sample of 1,600 plus economic text-readable early modern publications from the Early English Books Online Text Creation Partnership (EEBO-TCP). Clustering the topics reveals five main themes: religion, politics, husbandry, travel, and trade. Notably, religion and husbandry decline over the century, while politics and trade increase. The shift is indicative of the larger movement toward the mercantile themes of power and plenty, but also the emerging culture of theoretically coherent, empirically based, and abstractly realized economic arguments that laid the groundwork for the developments Adam Smith presents in The Wealth of Nations.

No extended abstract or paper available

 Presented in Session 59. Data Intensive Approaches to Civil Society and Economic Concepts