Economics Dictionary of Arguments

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Critical junctures: A critical juncture in history is a turning point that alters the course of history. These events are typically characterized by a high degree of uncertainty, a rapid pace of change, and a significant impact on the future. See also History, Historiography, Politics, Power, War, Crises.
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Annotation: The above characterizations of concepts are neither definitions nor exhausting presentations of problems related to them. Instead, they are intended to give a short introduction to the contributions below. – Lexicon of Arguments.

 
Author Concept Summary/Quotes Sources

Daron Acemoglu on Critical Junctures - Dictionary of Arguments

Acemoglu I 106
Critical Junctures/Acemoglu/Robinson: During critical junctures, a major event or confluence of factors disrupts the existing balance of political or economic power in a nation. These can affect only a single country, such as the death of Chairman Mao Zedong in 1976, which at first created a critical juncture only for Communist China. Often, however, critical junctures affect a whole set of societies, in the way that, for example, colonization and then decolonization affected most of the globe. Such critical junctures are important because there are formidable barriers against gradual improvements, resulting from the synergy between extractive political and economic institutions and the support they give each other.
Such critical junctures are important because there are formidable barriers against gradual improvements, resulting from the synergy between extractive political and economic institutions and the support they give each other. Once a critical juncture happens, the small differences that matter are the initial institutional differences that put in motion very different responses.
>Institutional drift/Acemoglu
, cf. >Path dependence.
Acemoglu I 114
E.g., Western Europe, experiencing many of the same historical processes, had institutions similar to England at the time of the Industrial Revolution. There were small but consequential differences between England and the rest, which is why the Industrial Revolution happened in England and not France. This revolution then created an entirely new situation and considerably different sets of challenges to European regimes, which in turn spawned a new set of conflicts culminating in the French Revolution. The French Revolution was another critical juncture that led the institutions of Western Europe to converge with those of England, while Eastern Europe diverged further.
Acemolgu I 242
Industrial Revolution: The Industrial Revolution created a transformative critical juncture for the whole world during the nineteenth century and beyond: those societies that
Acemoglu I 243
allowed and incentivized their citizens to invest in new technologies could grow rapidly. But many around the world failed to do so—or explicitly chose not to do so. Nations under the grip of extractive political and economic institutions did not generate such incentives. Spain and Ethiopia provide examples where the absolutist control of political institutions and the implied extractive economic institutions choked economic incentives long before the dawn of the nineteenth century.(1)

1. The notion of a critical juncture was first developed by Lipset and Rokkan (1967).

Lipset, Seymour Martin, and Stein Rokkan, eds. (1967). Party System and Voter Alignments. New York: Free Press.

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Explanation of symbols: Roman numerals indicate the source, arabic numerals indicate the page number. The corresponding books are indicated on the right hand side. ((s)…): Comment by the sender of the contribution. Translations: Dictionary of Arguments
The note [Concept/Author], [Author1]Vs[Author2] or [Author]Vs[term] resp. "problem:"/"solution:", "old:"/"new:" and "thesis:" is an addition from the Dictionary of Arguments. If a German edition is specified, the page numbers refer to this edition.

Acemoglu II
James A. Acemoglu
James A. Robinson
Economic origins of dictatorship and democracy Cambridge 2006

Acemoglu I
James A. Acemoglu
James A. Robinson
Why nations fail. The origins of power, prosperity, and poverty New York 2012


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