Pareto, Vilfredo

   One of the most important economists of the 19th century, Vilfredo Pareto was also a challenging sociologist and political economist. For economic theorists, Pareto is chiefly remembered as the inventor of the so-called Pareto optimalization in 1906, which describes efficient and inefficient states in a market economy. Pareto was also one of the leading proponents of laissez-faire theories after the Italian state’s adoption of protectionism in 1887. He did not shirk political polemic: In June 1896, in a devastating article, he ironically attacked numerous leading politicians, and in particular Antonio Starabba di Rudini, as heading a “ministry of gentlemen,” for not having investigated the role played by political corruption in the Banca Romana scandal. As a sociologist, Pareto’s reputation rests upon his colossal (2,000 page) Trattato di sociologia generale (Treatise of General Sociology, 1916). The central theme of his work in social theory was that human history is nothing other than a perpetual struggle between elites to obtain power or to conserve it. Political ideologies (such as liberalism or conservatism or socialism) are merely elaborate justifications with which the elites mask their intentions from others and even from themselves. Pareto believed, moreover, that contemporary Europe was guided by a uniquely inept ruling class that did not even defend its own values with energy and was destined to yield to the rising power of the working class.
   Pareto’s academic career was largely spent in Switzerland. He took the chair in political economy at the University of Lausanne in 1893. In his final years, he lived at Celigny on the shores of Lake Geneva. He died there in 1923.
   See also Mosca, Gaetano.

Historical Dictionary of Modern Italy. . 2007.

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  • Pareto, Vilfredo — born July 15, 1848, Paris, France died Aug. 19, 1923, Geneva, Switz. Italian economist and sociologist. Educated at the University of Turin, he worked as an engineer and later served as a director of a large Italian railway. He taught at the… …   Universalium

  • Pareto, Vilfredo — (15 jul. 1848, París, Francia–19 ago. 1923, Ginebra, Suiza). Economista y sociólogo italiano. Estudió en la Universidad de Turín, trabajó como ingeniero y fue posteriormente director de un gran ferrocarril italiano. Empezó a desempeñarse como… …   Enciclopedia Universal

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  • Pareto, Vilfredo Frederico Damaso — (1848 1923) Gen Mgt Italian economist, mathematician, and sociologist. Originator of the eighty twenty rule, and of the law of income distribution known as Pareto’s Law, which he explained in Cours d’Économie Politique (1896–97) …   The ultimate business dictionary

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