Edited by John B. Davis and Wilfred Dolfsma
Chapter 11: Culture, values and institutions
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).
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