Economic and Social History

lecge1121  2019-2020  Louvain-la-Neuve

Economic and Social History
Note from June 29, 2020
Although we do not yet know how long the social distancing related to the Covid-19 pandemic will last, and regardless of the changes that had to be made in the evaluation of the June 2020 session in relation to what is provided for in this learning unit description, new learnig unit evaluation methods may still be adopted by the teachers; details of these methods have been - or will be - communicated to the students by the teachers, as soon as possible.
4 credits
30.0 h
Debruyne Emmanuel;
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.

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 contribution of this Teaching Unit to the development and command of the skills and learning outcomes of the programme(s) can be accessed at the end of this sheet, in the section entitled “Programmes/courses offering this Teaching Unit”.
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), the bipolar world (1945-1991) and the more recent changes (1991-). 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.
Evaluation methods
There is a written evaluation made up of a multiple-choice and two open questions referring to a specific point, either requiring require students to draw on elements divided between several chapters.
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).
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
Minor in Human and Social Sciences

Minor in Economics

Minor in Economics (open)

Approfondissement 'Principes de maîtrise de l'actualité'

Bachelor in Human and Social Sciences

Master [120] in Multilingual Communication

Bachelor in Economics and Management

Bachelor in Philosophy, Politics and Economics

Bachelor in History