INSTITUTIONS AS ENABLING CONSTRAINTS. A NOTE ON SOCIAL NORMS, SOCIAL CHANGE AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

Sławomir Czech

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.12775/EiP.2014.023

Abstract


        Both formal and informal institutions are usually perceived as constraints that structure and limit human behavior. This is understandable when we use them as an addition to neoclassical economics and as an attempt to overcome its deficiencies. Yet institutions also enable behavior which would otherwise probably be inexistent. This paper aims to highlight the enabling feature of institutions and briefly recognizes selected consequences of it. We argue (1) that because institutional arrangements cause specific distribution results thus the process of institutional change is virtually infinite and does not have to lead to socially optimal effects and (2) that informal institutions (social norms) have today important explanatory and creative power for the existing social order and economic development. We conclude by suggesting that more interdisciplinary approach to economics may contribute to our better understanding of socioeconomic reality and indicate promising threads of current research.


Keywords


institutions; institutional change; social order; economic evolution

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