How culture evolves: an institutional analysis

How culture evolves: an institutional analysis Purpose – This paper seeks to propose a framework that describes how culture evolves and how certain external shocks may or may not cause it to change. Design/methodology/approach – The central point is that culture, like firms and markets, is a type of institution and is, therefore, susceptible to the same sort of analysis applied to other institutional forms. In this study, culture is examined from the game‐equilibrium view of institutions that suggests that norms of behavior are endogenously generated and become self‐enforcing through the repeated interaction of individuals. Two historical examples are offered to assess the proposed framework: the experience of ethnic Malays in Malaysia following independence from Britain, and Brazil's agricultural workers during the early part of the twentieth century. Findings – Conceptualizing culture in institutional terms challenges conventional wisdom, which regards culture as exogenously given. The institutional view of culture permits an evaluation of environmental changes as to the likelihood that they will change generally held beliefs. Research limitations/implications – To the extent that culture explains, in part, the economic performance of societies, the implication for policy makers is that they do not have to wait patiently for slow cultural change or rely on serendipity to achieve a more productive culture paradigm. Originality/value – This paper applies concepts from institutional economics to the study of culture evolution and change. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png International Journal of Social Economics Emerald Publishing

How culture evolves: an institutional analysis

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Publisher
Emerald Publishing
Copyright
Copyright © 2007 Emerald Group Publishing Limited. All rights reserved.
ISSN
0306-8293
DOI
10.1108/03068290710734217
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Purpose – This paper seeks to propose a framework that describes how culture evolves and how certain external shocks may or may not cause it to change. Design/methodology/approach – The central point is that culture, like firms and markets, is a type of institution and is, therefore, susceptible to the same sort of analysis applied to other institutional forms. In this study, culture is examined from the game‐equilibrium view of institutions that suggests that norms of behavior are endogenously generated and become self‐enforcing through the repeated interaction of individuals. Two historical examples are offered to assess the proposed framework: the experience of ethnic Malays in Malaysia following independence from Britain, and Brazil's agricultural workers during the early part of the twentieth century. Findings – Conceptualizing culture in institutional terms challenges conventional wisdom, which regards culture as exogenously given. The institutional view of culture permits an evaluation of environmental changes as to the likelihood that they will change generally held beliefs. Research limitations/implications – To the extent that culture explains, in part, the economic performance of societies, the implication for policy makers is that they do not have to wait patiently for slow cultural change or rely on serendipity to achieve a more productive culture paradigm. Originality/value – This paper applies concepts from institutional economics to the study of culture evolution and change.

Journal

International Journal of Social EconomicsEmerald Publishing

Published: Mar 20, 2007

Keywords: Culture; Changing society; Malaysia; Brazil

References

  • Fractionalization
    Alesina, A.; Devleeschauwer, A.
  • Toward a Comparative Institutional Analysis
    Aoki, M.
  • Entrepreneurship: productive, unproductive, and destructive
    Baumol, W.
  • Social norms and economic theory
    Elster, J.
  • Big bills left on the sidewalk: why some nations are rich and other's poor
    Olson, M.
  • Governing the Commons
    Ostrom, E.
  • Institutions and Organizations
    Scott, W.R.
  • Public and private bureaucracies: a transaction cost economics perspective
    Williamson, O.

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