Robert Paul Brenner
November 28, 1943
|Known for||Brenner debate|
|Awards||Guggenheim Fellowship (1977)|
|Thesis||Commercial Change and Political Conflict (1970)|
|Doctoral advisor||Lawrence Stone|
|Sub-discipline||Early modern European history|
|School or tradition||Marxism|
|Institutions||University of California, Los Angeles|
|Notable students||Gopal Balakrishnan|
|Main interests||Tudor–Stuart English history|
Robert Paul Brenner (//; born November 28, 1943) is a professor emeritus of history and director of the Center for Social Theory and Comparative History at UCLA, 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 Tudor–Stuart England.
Brenner contributed to a debate among Marxists on the "Transition from Feudalism to Capitalism", 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. His influential but controversial 1976 article, Agrarian Class Structure and Economic Development in Pre-Industrial Europe, started the Brenner debate. He argued that smallholding peasants had strong property rights and had little incentive to give up traditional technology or go beyond local markets and 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.
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