PhD'22 (European history), University of Chicago
Political economy and the history of capitalism; early modern and modern Europe; the Atlantic World; material culture, consumer societies, and global exchanges; the history of economic thought; labor and social movements; nationalism
The Political Economy of Taste: The State and the Porcelain Industry in France, 1682–1815
Nicholas O’Neill is a historian studying the emergence of capitalism. His research focuses on how capitalist markets are created and how capitalism creates ideas about markets.
Nicholas’s first book project uses the French porcelain industry as a case study on the importance of consumer demand for industrialization. Drawing on institutional economics and material culture studies, his project argues that for a market to emerge operating on a global scope and at an industrial scale, mechanisms had to be invented to reassure consumers about the aesthetic and material qualities of the new goods they encountered. The collective efforts of merchants, manufacturers, and bureaucrats to create, communicate, and control consumer information made possible the transition from commercial to industrial capitalism, generated new conceptions of value and business practices, and made France the world’s leading luxury manufacturer.
Nicholas also studies the history of economic thought from the sixteenth to the twentieth centuries with a particular interest in theories of demand and value.
Nicholas O’Neill received his doctorate in history with distinction from the University of Chicago, where he is a Teaching Fellow in History and the College currently teaching the series Power, Identity, and Resistance.