Table of Contents

Culture and Economic Action

Culture and Economic Action

New Thinking in Political Economy series

Edited by Laura E. Grube and Virgil Henry Storr

This edited volume, a collection of both theoretical essays and empirical studies, presents an Austrian economics perspective on the role of culture in economic action. The authors illustrate that culture cannot be separated from economic action, but that it is in fact part of all decision-making.

Chapter 14: Between community and society: political attitudes in transition countries

Petrik Runst

Subjects: development studies, development economics, economics and finance, austrian economics, development economics


The puzzle of how open, market societies came about is deserving of additional research. My research focuses on the beliefs and values among citizens of former Soviet-controlled countries. These former Soviet countries transitioned away from a centrally planned economy toward market economic institutions at the same time that they developed their democratic institutions. As North (2005) has stated, simply replacing one institutional structure by another does not guarantee its survival as long as there is not also a transformation of values. Several Austrian scholars have highlighted the importance of culture in explaining economic and political processes (Boettke 1998; Lavoie and Chamlee-Wright 2000; Storr 2010; Chamlee-Wright 2011b; Runst 2013, 2014; Boettke et al., this volume, Chapter 6). Both Lavoie and Chamlee-Wright (2000) and Boettke (1998; Boettke et al., this volume, Chapter 6) stress that successful development depends on a transformation of value and belief systems, and without such a transformation the political reforms will be incomplete at best, or they are subject to policy reversals. Runst (2013, 2014) shows empirically that certain cultural aspects affect the decision to become self-employed and how to vote in post-socialist countries.

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