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JK Galbraith Conference

Starts: 3 September 2008
Ends:  4 September 2008

Cardiff School of History and Archaeology conference in association with Past and Present

3-4 September 2008

JK Galbraith


JK Galbraith in historical context: rationale

We are planning a conference to discuss the historical impact of the life, work and influence of J.K. Galbraith, to be held in Cardiff University in September 2008.

Galbraith’s life drew together many different threads. He was an economist, of course, but also a civil servant, a social critic, a political activist and a historian. He left his mark in all of these areas and it could be argued that his experiences in each one of them shaped his critique of modern capitalism. This critique, developed in the 1950s and 1960s and elaborated and refined all the way to the end of his life, was sustained first in the face of  challenges from orthodox Keynesians such as Paul Samuelson and then against the neo-liberal revival associated with Milton Friedman and the Chicago School. After his death his economics was dismissed by some commentators such as Lord Desai and Patrick Minford while others such as Michael Stewart and William Keegan, as well as the Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown, spoke of him as a ‘visionary’ and as a ‘brilliant economist’.

This conference aims to explore and analyse Galbraith’s contribution from the perspective of the historian. The focus will not be so much on an assessment of Galbraith as an economist but on questions about his role in influencing the development of economics over time, about why his perspective generated (and still generates) controversy, about the philosophies and traditions it draws upon, about his part in the Keynesian revolution and the development of a post-Keynesian analysis, about the value of his work in assisting our understanding of advanced capitalist societies in the second half of the twentieth century, about his relationship with Liberalism and the Left in the USA and the UK. How valid was Galbraith’s analysis of post-war society, and of the connections between the modern corporation and the ‘military-industrial complex’ identified, respectively, in The Affluent Society, The New Industrial State, and Economics and the Public Purpose?

Our intention is to explore these issues by bringing together contributions from a group of leading contemporary historians, as well as economists, political scientists ands sociologists (a link to the provisional programme is in the right-hand column of this page) who have worked in areas of study influenced by Galbraith’s research and publications. The value of the project has been recognised by Past and Present: its editorial board has agreed to associate this distinguished journal with the conference.

To see the provisional programme please follow the link in the right-hand column of this page.

A booking form is available to download in the right-hand column of this page.

For information about locations, maps and travel directions to Cardiff University please follow the link in the right-hand column of this page.


Dr Scott Newton
Prof Peter Coss


For enquiries please contact:

Miss Claire Isaksson


Other information

Open To: Postgraduate Students
Staff Only

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