Text analysis of the 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. A database of 1,308 authors, 6,149 corporate investors, and 304 trade councilors reveals that a large and increasing proportion of texts were authored by merchants who were deeply embedded in networks of corporate investment but occupied peripheral positions in the networks of committees and councils that formed the state’s economic policy branch. The structure of authors’ networks indicates that new economic arguments were developed by merchants attempting to communicate across the divisions between economic and state spheres -- in effect creating a new type of knowledge in order to bridge an existing cultural hole.
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