Research Proposal for ESRC for website

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					Business Culture and Community: Liverpool in the 18th Century British
Atlantic

During the eighteenth century British trade was ‘Americanised’, meaning that the
focus of its trade moved to the west rather than the east, and this was especially true in
the case of Liverpool. Despite the fact that trade was conducted over very long
distances, business practise was still relatively unsophisticated by today’s standards,
and merchants had to work within an environment in which legal and formal
structures were not only in their infancy, but often unenforceable – especially around
the Atlantic. Due to the nature of this volatile environment, taking risk, establishing
trust and reputation, whilst keeping obligation at a manageable level, were vital in
establishing trade. This research will use social-science theory, and in particular that
regarding risk, trust, reputation, obligation and networks, in order to more precisely
investigate and articulate these themes with reference to Liverpool merchants working
within the developing economy of the eighteenth-century Atlantic. Despite
Liverpool’s central role in the ‘Americanisation’ of trade in this period, only one
major work has been conducted on the Liverpool trading community in the
eighteenth-century since the 1980s (Haggerty, 2002). This research is therefore badly
needed. This research directly links with the ESRC’s research theme ‘Economic
Performance and Development’, and especially issues such as the role of risk in
economic stability, the social factors governing economic behaviour, the impact of
global economic integration, and the functioning of international trade and markets.




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