Table of Contents

The Elgar Companion to Social Economics

The Elgar Companion to Social Economics

Elgar original reference

Edited by John B. Davis and Wilfred Dolfsma

As this comprehensive Companion demonstrates, social economics is a dynamic and growing field that emphasizes the key role that values play in the economy and in economic life. Social economics treats the economy and economics as being embedded in the larger web of social and ethical relationships. It also regards economics and ethics as essentially connected, and adds values such as justice, fairness, dignity, well-being, freedom and equality to the standard emphasis on efficiency. The Elgar Companion to Social Economics brings together the leading contributors in the field to elucidate a wide range of recent developments across different subject areas and topics. In so doing the contributors also map the likely trends and directions of future research. This Companion will undoubtedly become a leading reference source and guide to social economics for many years to come.

Chapter 10: Culture, Values and Institutions

Paul D. Bush

Subjects: economics and finance, methodology of economics, public sector economics, social policy and sociology, economics of social policy


Paul D. Bush Introduction The concept of culture is an idea that receives a variety of formulations across the broad reach of the humanities, fine arts and social sciences, defying all claims of exclusive use by any particular academic specialization. In the social sciences, cultural anthropology is perhaps the first discipline to embrace it as a fundamental principle of organized research. It has substantially influenced the other social sciences, providing both theoretical and empirical insights into the nature of culture. The first coherent treatment of the role of culture in economic affairs was presented by Thorstein B. Veblen in his classic study, The Theory of the Leisure Class (1899). Following Veblen and the evidence supplied by cultural anthropology, American institutional economists have incorporated the concept of culture both in their critique of mainstream (neoclassical) economics and in their formulation of institutional economic analysis. The culture concept is the diagnostic feature of institutional economics which sets it apart from the economic orthodoxy found in the mainstream economic literature (Junker, 1968, p. 201; Hamilton, 1970, pp. 71–2; Mayhew, 1994, p. 116; Hodgson, 2000, p. 327). It is for this reason that the present discussion of culture, values and institutions is couched in terms of the methodological and substantive arguments developed by economists writing in the tradition of American institutional economics, which will be referred to here as the ‘original institutional economics’ (OIE).1 The juxtaposition of the terms ‘culture’, ‘values’ and ‘institutions’ in the title of this chapter re...

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