Werner Sombart

and the History of the Economic Base Concept


Supporting & Related Pages:

Werner Sombart (1863-1941)

"Werner Sombart and the Economic Base Concept,"
Land Economics, 44(1), February 1968, pp.112-116.

Post Scriptum

After publication of this paper on Sombart's contribution to the development of the economic base concept, I was made aware of two European publications which complement my findings:

  1. Professors Marc de Smidt, in a letter of October 1, 1968, wrote: that "in January 1967, my colleague Borchert and I have given lectures about the Economic Base Concept in a meeting of the Royal Dutch Geographical Society. In this meeting, I pointed out that the concept was mainly developed by Werner Sombart." However, Marc de Smidt continues that the matter was first approached by "the Leiden mercantalistic economist Pieter de la Court." De Smidt then refers to the publication of this lecture in the Bulletin (see below) and ends that he did not know that Nussbaum "had the permission to base his book almost entirely on Sombart's 'Der Moderne Kapitalismus'", and that he only knew "that the terms of Nussbaum were obviously the same as those which were used by Sombart."

    M.DE SMIDT, "STUWEND EN VERZORGEND: EEN VERKENNING VAN DE ONTWIKKELING DER KONCEPTIE," Bulletin (Geografisch Instituut Utrecht, No.4, June 1967, pp.7-40.


    Borchert and de Smidt, "The Economic Base Concept" (English Summary of above papers), op.cit., pp.64-69.

    M.DE SMIDT, "A Provisional Bibliography on the Economic Base Concept," op.cit., pp.70-82.

    In their English summary, the authors point out that Sombart had "detected that the first efforts in this field of the economic base concept had already been undertaken by the Dutch mercantalist Pieter DE LA COURT in his manuscript "'t Welvaren der Stadt Leiden" in 1659 (On the prosperity of the City of Leiden)." (p.64). Borchert and de Smidt continue,: "In the opinion of DE LA COURT the (exporting) manufacturing industries and the university were the two basic sectors in the urban economy of Leiden. All other elements of the economic structure depended on this economic base. The efforts aiming at an increase of population should therefore be directed towards the stimulation of export promoting and import substituting activities. Thus foreign trade should have priority." (pp.64-5; the original and more detailed Dutch statement on de la Court's contribution can be found on p.11)
  2. Professor Kazimierz Dziewonski (Instytut Geografii P.A.N., Polish Academy of Sciences) in a letter of September 23, 1968, wrote about his interest in Werner Sombart's contributions to the economic base, published in Volume 63 of Prace Geograficzne (published at his Institute) and referred to also in his paper published in Papers (Regional Science Association) Vienna Congress, 1966.. [both papers were not included in de Smidt's Bibliography]

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