This paper offers an alternative to the view that high technology promotes development and low technology inhibits development. We differentiate between monopoly technology and accessible technology. Monopoly technology produces growth by producing monopoly rents. As a byproduct, it also produces substantial inequality, both within nations and globally. Accessible technology produces growth without monopoly simply by increasing the volume of production in a lucrative business. We illustrate this first with a consideration of successful agrarian-based development in the global North that was based on agricultural products that were not particularly monopolized. We then move to a detailed consideration of fishing in nineteenth-century Norway. Norway’s economic development depended on proceeds from fishing exports. Norwegian fishing had a distinctive technology that made it particularly low-tech and egalitarian. It produced substantial wealth for the nation while producing very little social inequality.
The Technological Basis of Egalitarian Economic Growth: How Nineteenth-Century Norway’s Boats with No Decks Provided a Humanistic Alternative to Industrial Slums
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Samuel Cohn, Michael Upchurch; The Technological Basis of Egalitarian Economic Growth: How Nineteenth-Century Norway’s Boats with No Decks Provided a Humanistic Alternative to Industrial Slums. Sociology of Development 29 September 2020; 6 (3): 368–393. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/sod.2020.6.3.368
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