Edited by John B. Davis and Wilfred Dolfsma
Chapter 35: Radical Institutionalism
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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