“The Clash of Theoretizations”: the Case of the Ottoman Empire in the XVIIIth century

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Article deals with some common theoretical questions and theories regarding the Ottoman Empire as an interesting matter to prove them right or wrong, and how they work on particular historical material. For such reasons several key theories will be used: modernization theory, world-system analysis, divergence theory, historical sociology, class struggle theory, another point of view is Ray Dalio’s concept of “big curve” and economic cycles theory, depicted in Clement Juglar, Tugan-Baranovsky and Nikolai Kondratiev works along with Oded Lagor’s theory of unified growth. Author tries to imply how these theories explain or could explain the magistral way of development in the XVIII century and how Ottoman history is comparable to other states. Main results are next: from modernization theory prospects Ottomans faced couple short periods of what we can call modernization (improvement or reestablishing institutions and the way they perform their strict duties) during the “Tulip Era” (1703-1730), during major confrontations with European powers (1750-1770) and by the beginning or reign of Selim III from 1789. All those endeavors were different in spheres. lasting and methods, but pursuing one goal – to emulate European experience using Islamic and strictly Ottoman background – creating a well-organized state, able to withstand Europe. Due to world-system analysis in the XVIII century Ottoman Empire inadvertently lost its superpower status, diminishing to regional power. Also, they shifted from semi-periphery to periphery, a process which has been proceeding for all of the XVIII century and ended in 1839. From a sociological point of view, Ottoman society began to polarize – both in territorial and functional ways. Territorial – local elites began to grow in wealth and question central government power, creating local myths, dealing with non-Muslim and tribal minorities. Functional – due to absence of large-scale industrial manufacturing and consequently absence of middle class in European view, Ottoman trading elites profited as mediators for Europeans and consequently didn’t grow as “Third power” to provide pressure on their government. Ray Dalio’s “big curve” concept was chosen due to its nearly absence in current research, and it is shown that it is too abstract and uses non-qualified criteria to make any probable conclusion, whether state is fine or on the verge of collapse. Economic activity cycles concept shows that Ottomans situated in the wholesale trend of the XVIII century – diminishing prices for grain and rising activity in the credit sphere.


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Chalyi, A. (2023) “‘The Clash of Theoretizations’: the Case of the Ottoman Empire in the XVIIIth century”, Problems of World History, (22), pp. 43–58. doi: 10.46869/2707-6776-2023-22-4.
Author Biography

A. Chalyi

Chalyi Andrii – Postgraduate Student of the State Institution “Institute of World History of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine”.


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