Institutional Individualism and Institutional Change: The Search for a Mode of Explanation
University of Valencia - Department of Applied Economics
Cambridge Journal of Economics, Vol. 25, pp. 765-783, 2001
After noting the lack of enthusiasm of several well-known scholars concerning the adoption of both methodological holism and methodological individualism in its several versions, this paper shows that institutional individualism is a different mode of explanation from both of these and also that it is not the same thing as the so-called Popperian programme of situational analysis. Institutional individualism is a mode of explanation that yields non-systemic and non-reductionist explanations at the same time as it allows for the incorporation into economic theories and models of the many formal and informal institutional aspects surrounding all human interactions, whether these interactions take place within stable structures of legal rules and social norms or whether they attempt to change the said rules and norms. Finally, the paper shows that it is possible for old institutionalists to make institutional individualist analyses of institutional changes while retaining the remaining methodological assumptions of the school. The same is true for new institutionalists. Some examples are offered from both camps.
Keywords: Institutional individualism, Methodological individualism, Holism, Situational analysis, Institutional change
JEL Classification: D41, D23, D72Accepted Paper Series
Date posted: February 29, 2008
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