Great Issues—Miller Center

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Great Issues: Scholarship in the Public Interest

More from Louis Hyman

Debtor Nation - Louis Hyman explains how specific policy choices shifted consumer debt from the margins of the U.S. economy in the late nineteenth century to the center of the economy in the late twentieth century. 

Suburbia and the Redirecting of Capital - Louis Hyman argues that while there are legitimate reasons to criticize the role of public policy in the creation of suburbia, the process also provides a useful example of the state’s ability to redirect private capital for a social good - in this case, the creation of quality housing for millions of working Americans. 

The Contingency of Capitalism and the Possibility of Choice - Louis Hyman highlights one of the key contributions of the history of capitalism field: its demonstration that capitalism is not a natural feature of the world, but instead the product of specific policy choices. This insight, which has been clarified by the collapse of communism and the loss of the "utopian imaginary" of a post-capitalist future, suggests that we can make future choices as well - choices that will determine the nature of capitalism moving forward and whether it is a force for equity and human progress. 

Writing History from “the Bottom to the Top” - Louis Hyman describes his methodology of conducting history "from the bottom all the way to the top."  Hyman starts his research by looking at everyday practices and traces power to the top, instead of focusing solely on either the bottom or on a top-down investigation. According to Hyman,  this produces a very different story, and can, for example, explain not only how inequality is understood, but also how is it manifested in reality. 

The Changing Nature of Capitalism - Louis Hyman explains why it is problematic to develop a rigid definition of capitalism that ignores its fluid boundaries. Hyman discusses the evolving, historical forms of capitalism that help it evade attempts at definition. Ultimately, though, Hyman understands the history of capitalism as being about investment and capital accumulation. Such a framework allows the field to centralize subjects such as the history of slavery, suggesting the possibility that capitalism as it exists can be changed.