Research Handbook on Austrian Law and Economics
Show Less

Research Handbook on Austrian Law and Economics

Edited by Todd J. Zywicki and Peter J. Boettke

The original contributions to the Research Handbook provide an introduction to the application of Austrian economics to law. The book begins with chapters on the methodology of law and economics. Further chapters discuss key concepts in Austrian economics – dynamic competitive processes, spontaneous order, subjective value, entrepreneurship, and the limited nature of individual knowledge – as they relate to topics in evolutionary law (social rules, self-governance, dispute resolution) and basic law (torts, antitrust, civil procedure, business and family law).
Buy Book in Print
Show Summary Details
You do not have access to this content

Chapter 8: Self-governance, property rights, and illicit commerce

David Skarbek


The legal centrism hypothesis argues that the state is necessary to define and enforce property rights, and in the absence of state-based institutions, self-governing groups will be incapable of engaging in economic exchange and extended commercial enterprise. This chapter provides evidence against legal centrism by examining the operation of the Nuestra Familia prison gang. The gang protects inmates’ property rights and facilitates trade in contraband in California prisons, and operates an illicit business enterprise in the free world from behind prison walls. An important reason for the success of its organization is a system of information transmission mechanisms between gang members in different facilities. These mechanisms allow self-governance among people with high discount rates and criminal histories.

You are not authenticated to view the full text of this chapter or article.

Elgaronline requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books or journals. Please login through your library system or with your personal username and password on the homepage.

Non-subscribers can freely search the site, view abstracts/ extracts and download selected front matter and introductory chapters for personal use.

Your library may not have purchased all subject areas. If you are authenticated and think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

Further information

or login to access all content.