Society and its institutions

Authored by: John F. Henry

The Routledge Handbook of Heterodox Economics

Print publication date:  July  2017
Online publication date:  July  2017

Print ISBN: 9781138899940
eBook ISBN: 9781315707587
Adobe ISBN:


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Unlike neoclassical (or mainstream) economists, heterodox economists are necessarily interested in the examination of institutions—though those entering from different theoretical vantage points display different levels of interest and different approaches. One fundamental reason why we observe a difference between mainstream and heterodox theorists in this regard lies in their respective foundations. All heterodox economists, regardless of specific theoretical orientation, approach the analysis of the economy from some version of an ‘embedded’ methodology (Polanyi 1944). That is, the economy is seen in a social context. ‘Society’ incontrovertibly necessitates various arrangements or organizations in order to function—or even exist—and such arrangements require supporting concepts to allow sufficient cohesion among participants, or these would dissolve in some anarchical fashion. Such arrangements and organizations are ‘institutions.’

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