chapter  19
20 Pages

A. W. Coats ECONOMIC GROWTH: THE ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL mSTORIAN'S DILEMMA (Nottingham, 1966)

ECONOMIC and social history came of age in this university six years ago when Professor Chambers delivered his inaugural lecture from this platform. 1 He then described the inaugural occasion as a privileged one, because the lecturer could, if he chose, throw his academic cap over the windmill knowing that his chair would not be required to follow. But although this may be a privileged occasion, it can also be a painful one for the audience as well as the lecturer, and there is something to be said for Professor Chambers' dictum that the object of the exercise should be to bait the cognoscendi without boring the laity. Too often the lecturer spends his time exposing the errors of his fellow specialists, or explaining how grossly neglected and financially under-nourished is that supremely important field of research to which he has devoted his life. Another besetting sin of inaugurals is the preoccupation with methodology; but in the present case I must plead extenuating circumstances, for the practitioner of a hybrid discipline like economic history is, as it were, thricetempted-he is tempted not only to pontificate on the nature and methods of economic history, but on those of economics and history as well.