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The Dynamic Society: The Sources of Global Change Hardcover – May 2, 1996

ISBN-13: 978-0415137300 ISBN-10: 0415137306

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Routledge (May 2, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0415137306
  • ISBN-13: 978-0415137300
  • Product Dimensions: 1.5 x 6.2 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #12,657,806 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


Professor Snooks has undertaken as ambitious a project as one could possibly conceive is a stimulating work, and one which shows an immense amount of reading, and an organization of the material into an interesting and highly speculative, but fascinating structure.
–Douglass C. North, Nobel Laureate in Economics

Graeme Snooks' lates book is a tour de force of global economic history...The book presents a brlliant overview of the history of mankind over time, from its beginning to the present, and...introduces in a very original way the impact of individual freedom and creativity into the structural characteristics of historical development. Many new insights can be found in the book: they are often challenging, sometimes even provocative, but they are always interesting and very stimulating.
–Baron herman Van der Wee, Past President of the International Economic History Association

Graeme Snooks draws upon economic, historical and biological ideas and concepts to present a fascinating description of the patterns of development of mankind and, based on this examination of the past, to provide predictions for the future.The Dynamic Society covers much time and space with a wide-ranging intellectual analysis, and is a most unusually stimulating and thought-provoking read.
–Stanley L. Engerman, Professor of Economics and History, University of Rochester

The author has a number of important and controversial points to make...The most interesting parts of the book are those where the author uses various rhetorical devices to explain the major components of his model by confronting it with a remarkable variety of empirical evidence...the book qualifies as intellectually stimulating and a downright good read.
–Mark Casson, Professor of Economics, University of Reading

About the Author

Graeme Donald Snooks is the Coghlan Professor and Head of the department of Economic History at the Institute of Advanced Studies, Australian National University. He has published widely on a number of central issues in economic history and is editor of a number of prestigious book series and journals

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Mrs. Eva Puente on April 22, 2005
Format: Paperback
What is Snooks' new post-Darwinian theory of life and everything? There is at maximum one person who knows, and if he does know, he is unable to communicate it. This is not a case where I can outline the theory, and then ask how well it corresponds to what we know. What the theory is is the central mystery. For example, the theory, Snooks states, employs existential as opposed to deductive models.

The above example is the book at maximum wackiness. There are many parts, even whole pages, where the exposition is clear: the discussions of crustal formation (yes, the crust of the earth), Hitler's aims (irrational), the oxygen content of the atmosphere, aggression in men and women (as evidenced by auto accidents), the walls of Jericho, blue-green algae, Henry Thomas Buckle (1821-1862), sea level changes, the Holy Roman Empire, post Keynesians, the ice age, linear time, volcanic eruptions, the nuclear family, Frederick Nietzsche, Joel Mokyr, dinosaurs, dolphins, and the Domesday Book, to name a few examples. The only problem is what the connection of the episode at issue is to the big idea. I know the theory is dynamic, which is why the front cover has charging horses on it, whereas Darwin was static. Dynamism is everywhere - more than one page of the index alone is devoted to dynamism in all its varieties, including "dynamics of the earth: formation of crust." Change we learn occurs because of dynamism. I also learned that the theory is "economic," and that it involves "paradigm shifts," but the theory itself remains hidden from the view of a reviewer trapped in the prison of deductive logic.
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Format: Paperback
There are already some good reviews on this book so I will only suggest reading the following books (whose scope is amazingly global) instead of, or in addition to, Snooks' peculiar work: 1) Economy: 1.1 "Power and Plenty: Trade, War, and the World Economy in the Second Millennium" by Ronald Findlay and Kevin H. O'Rourke; 1.2 and 1.3: "The world economy. A millennial perspective" (2001) plus "The world economy: Historical Statistics" (2003) by Angus Maddison (a combined edition of these two volumes appeared on December 2007); 2) Agrarian cultures: "Pre-industrial societies" by Patricia Crone; 3) Government: "The History of Government" by S.E. Finer; 4) Ideas: "Ideas, a History from Fire to Freud", by Peter Watson; 5) Political Thought: 5.1. and 5.2: "The West and Islam. Religion and Political Thought in World History" plus "A World History of Ancient Political Thought" by Antony Black; 6) Religion: "The Phenomenon of Religion: A Thematic Approach" by Moojan Momen; and 7) War: "War in Human Civilization" by Azar Gat.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Adrian Mattias on June 2, 2005
Format: Paperback
In this inspiring book Graeme Donald Snooks unravels the driving force of human society. His exploration starts at the beginning of life, some 4 billion years ago. Once we are able to understand the nature of life on earth, we may comprehend the dynamics of human society. The author is not afraid to challenge modern evolutionists by his claim that the development path of life can be explained by an empirical economic model. Charles Darwin's natural selection hypothesis was, in fact, influenced by Adam Smith. Evolution is, then, an economic rather than a physical problem - the struggle by species to gain access to scarce natural resources in order to survive.

Snooks's economic model is based on the concept of 'materialist man'. The basic driving force of mankind is to maximise the probability of survival and material prosperity (accumulation and consumption of tangible goods and services) over his lifetime. Materialist man is not the homo economicus of economic theory. Snooks is very explicit about its value. Short-run equilibrium analyses contribute very little to our knowledge about long run dynamic processes.

Materialist man tries to satisfy his demands in a highly competitive world, to which end he uses dynamic strategies: family multiplication, technology, conquest, and commerce. These choices are rational, because they aim at the maximisation of material returns, given expected benefits and costs. The ambitions of materialist man in human society have resulted in three technological paradigms: the Paleolithic Revolution (some 1.6 million years ago), the Neolithic Revolution (about 10600 years ago) and the Industrial Revolution (200 years ago). These fundamental changes in economic systems were the outcome of different dynamic mechanisms and dynamic strategies . . .
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3 of 6 people found the following review helpful By W. H. McKay on April 18, 2002
Format: Paperback
Professor Snooks has produced a magnum opus in "The Dynamic Society". He forwards an existential (empirical, inductive)economic model that elucidates not only the passage of human society from the beginnings, but encapsulates the rhythms of life itself.
The key elements of the model are these -
1)A dynamic actor, "materialist man" (MM) who maximizes material advantage over the course of a lifetime. Snooks is at great pains to distinguish his dynamic MM from both homo economicus (a static concept), and other forms of analytical (passive and active) agents utilized in both the social and the physical sciences. 2) The strategic demands of MM drive history. These demands manifest themselves in "dynamic strategies", which Snooks identifies as Conquest, Commerce, family multiplication and Technological Change. 3) The waxing and waning of dynamic strategies define cycles and epochs, institutional frameworks, the rise and fall of civilizations, and the level of economic growth (=GDP/capita).
The dynamic material model is a serious challenge to established modes of dialectical, idealist, material and institutional historiography. The serious practitioner and the ambitious student can hardly afford to be ignorant of the arguments of Professor Snooks.
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The Dynamic Society: The Sources of Global Change
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