Economic and Social History

lecge1121  2022-2023  Louvain-la-Neuve

Economic and Social History
4.00 credits
30.0 h
Main themes
The course deals primarily with the period starting at the end of the 19th century up to the present day, examining the sources closely linked to 20th century history (industrial, demographic and space revolutions) as well as developments in economics, society, politics and culture from the Belle Epoque to the crisis at the end of the 20th century. There are three main objectives. The first is to provide information. The course provides students with information about a number of key events or indicates how this information can be obtained from bibliographical references. The second is to help students to understand. Aside from the events themselves, there are movements and developments whose significance or possible meaning is highlighted. In practical teaching terms, this is achieved through the analysis of cases dealing with the great crises of the 20th century: the Great Wars, the 1921 crisis, the 1929 crisis, the crisis of democracy and the crisis at the end of the 20th century. The third, primarily critical objective is to demonstrate the complex and relative nature of the available information and the precautions which must be taken in using it.
Learning outcomes

At the end of this learning unit, the student is able to :

1 The primary aim of this course is to adopt a historical perspective and thus a critical distance to today's society, marked as it is by significant technological, social and economic change.. The course attempts to provide students with a historical reading of the contemporary period and in particular of the 20th century, whose roots lie in the break with the Ancien Régime from 1750 on, and in the second Industrial Revolution after the 1880s. It is hoped that giving students a better way of understanding the present, through reading about the past, will better equip them to reflect on the future.
The course focuses on the economic and social history of Europe (in constant interaction with the rest of the world), during the period extending from the middle of the 18e century to the present day. It addresses the major changes of Western societies and economies under the influence of the dynamics of modernity and capitalism, both through fundamental phenomena (transport revolution, Industrial Revolution, etc.) and through a periodization allowing to identify the main economic and social developments, also in relation with the major ideological, political and cultural changes.
The course is structured on historical chapters sequencing the evolution of societies. It successively addresses the European societies around 1750, the first Industrial Revolution, the rise of industrial capitalism, the second Industrial Revolution, the "Age of Catastrophe" (1914-1945), and the more recent changes (1945-). These chapters also involve some focus exceeding the chronological limits of each of them, and which relate to long-term phenomena (disappearance of slavery, economic crises, etc.) or concepts (economic cycles, world-economy, demographic transition, etc.).
The different topics are several times complemented by approaches offering a different perspective, such as the analysis of a work of art in order to emphasize some salient features of socio-economic developments and to put them in connection with cultural history of the societies, or the highlighting of historiographical debates about the meaning given to certain phenomena.
Teaching methods
The course is build on lectures, supported by a PowerPoint and a bibliography. 
Three books of this bibliography are namely recommended to the students, who must choose to read at least one of them. One or more questions of the examination will tackle the individually chosen book.
Evaluation methods
The course material covers the content covered in class as well as an elective reading. The January exam will be based on a multiple choice questionnaire, as well as an open question. The form of the exam is identical for each session.
Other information
The lectures start from the first week . One of the chapters will not be taught during the session, but will be recorded and available online.
Une bibliographie est fournie aux étudiants. Au sein de celle-ci, trois ouvrages sont particulièrement conseillés aux étudiants pour l'appropriation de la matière:
  • Patrick Verley, La Révolution industrielle, Paris, Gallimard, 2013 (1ère éd. 1997).
  • Paul Servais, Histoire économique et sociale du XXe siècle, Louvain-la-Neuve, Academia Bruylant, 2000.
  • Ivan T. Berend, Histoire économique de l’Europe du XXe siècle, 2e éd., Louvain-la-Neuve, De Boeck, 2018 (1ère éd. 2008).
  • James Walvin, Histoire du sucre, histoire du monde, Paris, La Découverte, 2020.
Teaching materials
  • PowerPoint du cours et bibliographie, accessibles sur Moodle.
Faculty or entity

Programmes / formations proposant cette unité d'enseignement (UE)

Title of the programme
Learning outcomes
Minor in Economics

Master [120] in Multilingual Communication

Minor in Human and Social Sciences

Minor in Economics (open)

Bachelor in Human and Social Sciences

Bachelor in Philosophy, Politics and Economics

Approfondissement 'Principes de maîtrise de l'actualité'

Bachelor in Economics and Management

Bachelor in History

Minor "Decentering History: Subalternities and postcolonial Studies"