Culture in Economics: History, Methodological Reflections by Sjoerd Beugelsdijk

By Sjoerd Beugelsdijk

Many economists now settle for that casual associations and tradition play a vital function in fiscal results. pushed through the paintings of economists like Nobel laureates Douglass North and Gary Becker, there's a big physique of labor that invokes cultural and institutional components to construct a extra entire and lifelike idea of financial habit. This booklet presents a accomplished evaluate of study during this region, sketching the most premises and demanding situations confronted via the sector. the 1st half introduces and explains a number of the theoretical techniques to learning tradition in economics, going again to Smith and Weber, and addresses the methodological concerns that must be thought of while together with tradition in economics. the second one a part of the publication then offers readers with a sequence of examples that express how the cultural process can be utilized to give an explanation for monetary phenomena in 4 various parts: entrepreneurship, belief, foreign enterprise and comparative company governance

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In addition to an explanatory interest in ethics as a crucial variable guiding behavior and constituting society, historicists viewed economics as an ethico– political science. Economics was a science explicitly directed at policy applications; the distinction between pure theory and practice was to be dissolved. However, if economic performance was a function of the morality in a society, to say anything about economic policy implied taking stances toward morality. 24 Culture in Economics Ethics in this respect was confronted as an empirical science.

In contemporary contributions, culture is therefore often seen as “a term of differentiation that separates ‘us’ from ‘them’ through the construction of general characteristics that are meant to define, and mark off, a given group or collectivity vis-a-vis another group or collectivity” ` (Hau 2000: 126). The conception of culture as being produced and renegotiated by individual agents through their actions and practices is typical for contemporary anthropology and cultural studies. ” It is still only occasionally that this interpretation of culture as contested and negotiable enters economics (see Heydeman 2008 for an example).

There existed such a thing as the German moral character and the British culture. Such essentialist notions of culture and development amounted to an approach to the study of economy that might be called “methodological nationalism”: the idea that any analysis of culture should start out from the unit of the nation. How culture disappeared from economics 27 Against the background of an emergent German nation-state seeking a common identity, this is hardly surprising (Kroeber and Kluckhohn 1963: 52).

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