Politics as a Peculiar Business

Politics as a Peculiar Business

Insights from a Theory of Entangled Political Economy

New Thinking in Political Economy series

Richard E. Wagner

Economists typically treat government as something outside the business realm, a sort of “Lord of the Manor”. Richard Wagner argues that this is the wrong approach and can ultimately be destructive to capitalism and to society.

Chapter 7: Societal tectonics and the art of the deal

Richard E. Wagner

Subjects: economics and finance, political economy, public choice theory


This chapter explains that collectively organized economic activity is transactional in nature, as those activities are instances of a generalized “art of the deal.” To be sure, transactions assembled with political participation are governed by different institutional arrangements from transactions among private entities. Market transactions are at base reducible to dyadic interactions. In contrast, political transactions are necessarily triadic. This difference in transactional structure generates a continual flow of societal tectonics of varying magnitudes, but which are baked into the cake, so to speak, all the same.

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