Economics
College of Humanities and Social Sciences

Hearts, Minds, and Self-Governance: Cooperation and Coercion in the Evolution of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth

Marta Podemska-Mikluch

Major Professor: Richard E Wagner, PhD, Department of Economics

Committee Members: Peter J. Boettke, Christopher J. Coyne

Enterprise Hall, #318
July 19, 2012, 09:00 AM to 07:00 AM

Abstract:

The 1569 union between the Kingdom of Poland and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania established the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth - the most populous and largest state in 16th century Europe. Two hundred years later neither Lithuania nor Poland were to be found on the maps. In this project I examine the collapse of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth through two alternative analytical frameworks and compare their ability to render the collapse intelligible. One framework is the comparative statics of equilibrium states; the other framework is the emergent dynamics of evolutionary processes.

With respect to comparative statics, the collapse of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth is explained as the outcome of territorial competition in which the Russian Empire, Kingdom of Prussia, and the Hapsburg Austria proved to be more successful than the Commonwealth. With respect to emergent dynamics, explanation lies in the transformation of the nexus of relationships accompanied by regime drift.


This dissertation argues that comparative statics is inadequate for explaining the evolution and disintegration of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. In order to understand how societies evolve over time, it is necessary to adopt the inside-out perspective that emergent dynamics offers. This dissertation illustrates this alternative conceptual orientation with reference to the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth.

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