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Culture and the Labour Market

Siobhan Austen

Culture and the Labour Market attempts to define the meaning of culture and the nature of its possible consequences on economic processes and outcomes. In particular, the book examines alternative theoretical and empirical approaches to the economic analysis of cultural effects in the labour market. Using extensive new data from fourteen countries, the author finds tangible evidence of substantial cross-cultural differences in beliefs about wage inequality.
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Chapter 9: Summary and Conclusion

Siobhan Austen


This book has been concerned with the idea of culture as an integrative hermeneutic system that encompasses language, custom, norms, morals, laws, values and beliefs. It has emphasized the importance of understanding the way in which culture constitutes economic actors and defines the boundaries to the legitimate pursuit of self-regarding interests. An argument has been made throughout this book that a cultural perspective is relevant to a range of labour market issues, including the determination of wages, levels of inequality, productivity within the workplace and occupational choice. A cultural perspective has been identified as a vital component of any understanding of the way labour markets work, especially the dynamic aspects of the growth and survival of labour market institutions, such as those relating to wage differentials, wage inequality and minimum wage controls. These arguments about the importance of culture to the labour market were pursued at both a theoretical and empirical level. The theoretical analysis was concentrated in Chapters Two to Four of the book, beginning in Chapter Two with an exploration of the meaning of culture and the different categories of cultural effects on economic behaviour. Two key types of cultural effects were identified in Chapter Two. First, culture constitutes economic actors by providing them with a framework by which to attach value and significance to different economic processes and outcomes. Thus, in contrast to the neoclassical assumption that individual preferences are exogenously determined and unchanging, a cultural perspective emphasizes that the preferences expressed by...

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