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 19: The cultural and political economy of drug prohibition

Kyle W. O’Donnell

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


For political economy—a discipline that has long reveled in illuminating the unintended consequences of government interventionism—drug prohibition has been one of the most fruitful subjects of analysis. Indeed, through their work on the economics of prohibition, economists have made many significant contributions to scientific knowledge, as well as public policy discourse. This includes analyses of the effects of prohibition on illicit drug prices (DiNardo 1993; Freeborn 2009), potency (Thornton 1991: pp. 89–110), and consumption (Saffer and Chaloupka 1999; DeSimone and Farrelly 2003; Burrus 2006); the structure and organization of black markets (Coomber 2003; Poret and Téjédo 2006); and the welfare implications of drug policy (Erickson 1969; Miron and Zwiebel 1995; Poret 2002; Miron 2004: pp. 43–74; Conlin et al. 2005; Becker et al. 2006). While this research has greatly expanded our understanding of the economics of prohibition, there are a number of important social, cultural, and institutional aspects of this subject that remain relatively unexplored. As D’Amico (2012: p. 70) explains, ‘while many have noticed prohibition’s effect on physical capital, less attend to its influence upon knowledge, social-learning processes, institutional development, and the accumulation of social capital.’ Indeed, the relationship between prohibition and non-market phenomena—especially the norms, social rules, informal institutions, and culture surrounding drug use—remains an underdeveloped area of study. However, the interaction between culture and government intervention would appear to raise numerous problems and questions of potential interest to political economists (for example, see Carilli et al. 2008).

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.

Further information