International Workshop: ‘Elisions and Elusions of Gentlemanly Capitalism’

Date and time

Tuesday 11 April 2017, 17:00-19:30 (Venue opens at 16:50)


Room C5 17th Floor, Global Front Building, Surugadai Campus, Meiji University



Chair Mahito Takeuchi, Associate Professor, College of Commerce, Nihon University
Presentation Andrew Dilley, D. Phil, Senior Lecturer and Deputy Head of School for History, School of Divinity, History and Philosophy, University of Aberdeen


It is now three decades since P. J. Cain and A. G. Hopkins developed the concept of gentlemanly capitalism and deployed it to explain three centuries of British imperial expansion. Despite heavy criticism, especially in the early days, the concept has entered scholarly and broader public discourse. This article offers a critical appraisal of gentlemanly capitalism. It outlines how Cain and Hopkins make three distinct sets of claims about the evolution of the British economy, about the sociology of status, and about the relationship between socio-economic elites and the state. It argues that, notwithstanding the undeniably rich analysis Cain and Hopkins weave around the concept, gentlemanly capitalism relies on a series of conceptual elisions and elusions which ultimately curtail its explanatory power. The article suggests however that from this critical deconstruction of the various elements of gentlemanly capitalism a fruitful new research agenda emerges.