Implications for Economic Policy
Edited by John Finch and Magali Orillard
Chapter 5: Landscape of a Prolific Convergence: Fernand Braudel and Institutional Economics
5. Landscape of a prolific convergence: Fernand Braudel and institutional economics Eyüp Özveren INTRODUCTION Fernand Braudel was a dedicated historian who served to change the very deﬁnition of history. He neither believed in the pursuit of history for the sake of history nor targeted a reconstruction through meticulous detail of what really happened in the past. Instead, he attempted to discern a meaning out of history. For him such a meaning could only be derived if one went beyond the chaotic surface of events and came to identify the deeper orderly structure(s) characteristic of history. This structural description of history was to capture the ‘complexity and heterogeneity’ (Braudel 1979, p. 25) inherent in the unfolding of historical process. The above agenda for history proposes an emphasis on structures at the expense of events. This shift of focus is linked with a parallel move from the description of a state of chaos to the explanation of a state of order. While this may seem to be a simpliﬁcation at ﬁrst, this, in fact, leads us to come to terms with orderly structures as a complex system. A complex system is made up of many parts in a state of interaction. In such a system, the whole is not reducible to the arithmetic sum of its parts. Most important, one attribute of such complex systems has been rightly identiﬁed as the presence of hierarchies. Following Herbert Simon, hierarchy ‘is one of the central structural schemes that the...
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