Albert Hirschman Centre on Democracy
Albert O Hirschman


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Geneva Graduate Institute, Maison de la Paix

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Albert O. Hirschman made a series of invaluable contributions to the social sciences - not just in economic and political theory, but also in area studies and comparative history, always with a “bias for hope” in favour of constructive policies of reform. He responded to the tragedies of interwar Europe first through personal commitment (as a member of the resistance), and later with organised redesign (working for the Marshall Plan). Then, in the 1950s, he turned to Latin America. His 1958 Strategy of economic development provided a powerful framework for the analysis of the sub-continent’s developmental challenges as it experimented with import-substituting industrialisation and the first generation of national economic planning endeavours. In Journeys Toward Progress, he followed up with more specific and historically-grounded studies of key issues such as drought control in North-East Brazil (SUDENE), inflation management in Chile, and land reform in South America. These were specific studies of contemporary relevance, but always couched in generalisable form and geared towards practical recommendations. 


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