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 35: Radical Institutionalism

William M. Dugger

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


William M. Dugger Introduction: there be beasties down below Robert Lekachman provides an appropriate introductory quotation: American institutionalism has been diverse, interdisciplinary, critical of society, concerned unashamedly with equity, and, inevitably, all of this said, less intellectually tidy than the ordered but visibly irrelevant universe of respectable theory. (Lekachman, 1979, p. i) On the surface, economics is steadfast in its pro-market stance. In the textbooks, all is smoothed out and calm. Also, it often seems as if all is for the best in this best of all possible worlds (Hodgson, 1991). Nevertheless, below the surface of the Panglossian science, sharp criticism of the economic order is brewing. Way down in the lower strata of the discipline, discontent is astir. All manner of wondrous beasties (schools of heterodox economics) roam an underground of the discipline. One of them is radical institutionalism, a form of socio-economics. Radical institutionalism is a processual paradigm focused on changing the direction of cultural evolution and changing the outcome of social provisioning in order to promote the full participation of all. (Dugger, 1989b, p. 126) The word ‘processual’ was coined to emphasize the processes of change and to distinguish institutionalism from the equilibrium analysis of neoclassical economics, and ‘social provisioning’ is used to emphasize that institutionalism includes social and cultural factors in its study (Gruchy, 1987). Changing the course of social evolution to move it in more egalitarian and peaceful directions that allow for greater participation of the excluded is the principal desire of radical institutionalists. Violent...

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