New Thinking in Political Economy series
Edited by Laura E. Grube and Virgil Henry Storr
Chapter 10: Culture as a constitution
Many of the concepts economists use to explain why some countries are rich and others are poor—concepts like institutions, legal origins, ethnic fractionalization, and geography—do not have controversial definitions. The concept of ‘culture,’ however, means different things to different economists. Achieving consensus on the meaning of culture may improve our understanding of how it influences economic activity, in the same way that a shared understanding of institutions, for example, allows for advances in institutionalist economic theory. If consensus is not possible, making available to economists a strategy for modeling the effect of culture on economic activity that captures how culture shapes, determines and colors economic action could be a useful advance in cultural economy. Economists, I argue, should consider modeling culture as a constitution. Why is it useful to model culture as a constitution to explain culture’s impact on economic activity? I argue that, just as a constitution frames interactions between government and citizens, culture provides people with a shared framework of meaning in which to make their economic decisions. People with different cultural constitutions will ascribe different meanings to their experiences. As a result of culture, then, they make different decisions.
You are not authenticated to view the full text of this chapter or article.
Elgaronline requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books or journals. Please login through your library system or with your personal username and password on the homepage.
Non-subscribers can freely search the site, view abstracts/ extracts and download selected front matter and introductory chapters for personal use.
Your library may not have purchased all subject areas. If you are authenticated and think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.