Robert Brenner

Robert Paul Brenner (/ˈbrɛnər/; born November 28, 1943) is a professor emeritus of history and director of the Center for Social Theory and Comparative History at UCLA,[4] editor of the socialist journal Against the Current, and editorial committee member of New Left Review. His research interests are Early Modern European History; economic, social and religious history; agrarian history; social theory/Marxism; and TudorStuart England.[1]

Robert Paul Brenner
Born (1943-11-28) November 28, 1943[1]
OccupationScholar, professor
Known forBrenner debate
AwardsGuggenheim Fellowship (1977)
Academic background
Alma materPrinceton University
ThesisCommercial change and political conflict : the merchant community in civil war London[2] (1970)
Doctoral advisorLawrence Stone[3]
Academic work
DisciplineHistorian and economist
Sub-disciplineTudorStuart England specialist
InstitutionsUniversity of California, Los Angeles[1]
Notable studentsGopal Balakrishnan
Main interestsEarly Modern European History

He has contributed to a debate among Marxists on the "Transition from Feudalism to Capitalism," [5] emphasizing the importance of the transformation of agricultural production in Europe, especially in the English countryside, rather than the rise of international trade as the main cause of the transition.[6] His influential but controversial 1976 article, Agrarian Class Structure and Economic Development in Pre-Industrial Europe, started the Brenner debate[7] He argued that smallholding peasants had strong property rights and had little incentive to give up traditional technology or go beyond local markets and thus no incentive toward capitalism.

In the spring of 2017, Brenner and Vivek Chibber assumed editorial duties and co-launched the academic journal Catalyst: A Journal of Theory and Strategy, with the assistance of Jacobin Magazine.[8]

Books and publications

  • 1976: Robert, Brenner. "Agrarian Class Structure and Economic Development in Pre-Industrial Europe". Published by Past and Present. JSTOR 650345.
  • 1993: Merchants and revolution : commercial change, political conflict, and London's overseas traders, 1550–1653 (Princeton, Princeton University Press) ISBN 0-691-05594-7
  • 2002: The boom and the bubble : the US in the world economy (New York, Verso) ISBN 1-85984-636-X
  • 2006: The economics of global turbulence : the advanced capitalist economies from Long Boom to Long Downturn, 1945–2005 (New York, Verso) ISBN 978-1-85984-730-5
  • 2009: Property and progress : the historical origins and social foundations of self-sustaining growth (London, Verso) ISBN 978-1-84467-318-6


  1. Brenner, Robert Paul (June 2007). "Curriculum Vitae" (PDF). University of California Los Angeles College - Social Sciences. University of California Los Angeles. Retrieved December 2, 2016.
  2. Brenner, Robert Paul (1970). Commercial change and political conflict : the merchant community in civil war London (Ph.D.). Princeton University. OCLC 49370299. ProQuest 302557010.
  3. Brenner, Robert (1993). Merchants and Revolution: Commercial Change, Political Conflict, and London's Overseas Traders, 1550-1653. Princeton: Princeton University Press. p. xvii. ISBN 978-0691055947.
  4. Center for Social Theory and Comparative History (CSTCH) Home Page
  5. The Brenner Debate: Agrarian Class Structure and Economic Development in Pre-industrial Europe. Editors: T. H. Aston, Trevor Henry Aston, C. H. E. Philpin. Contributors: R. H. Hilton, Robert Brenner, M. M. Postan, John Hatcher, Patricia Croot, David Parker, Heide Wunder, Emmanuel Le Roy Ladurie, Guy Bois, J. P. Cooper, Arnost Klima. Past and Present Publications. Cambridge University Press, 1987.
  6. Denemark, Robert A.; Thomas, Kenneth P. (March 1988). "The Brenner-Wallerstein Debate". International Studies Quarterly. 32 (1): 47–65. doi:10.2307/2600412. JSTOR 2600412. The world-systems perspective put forward by Immanuel Wallerstein has elicited a great deal of critical comment. Its stress on a system level of analysis and the importance it attaches to trade have not, however, gone unchallenged.... Robert Brenner's "The Origins of Capitalist Development: A Critique of Neo-Smithian Marxism" (New Left Review, 1977) is a complex Marxist critique of the first of Wallerstein's world-system volumes
  7. Brenner, Robert. "Agrarian Class Structure and Economic Development in Pre-industrial Europe". Past and Present 70 (1976), pp. 30–74
  8. "Announcing Catalyst". Jacobin Magazine. Jacobin Magazine. May 4, 2017. Retrieved June 10, 2017.
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