Institutions, Institutional Change, Language, and Searle

32 Pages Posted: 21 Dec 2005

See all articles by J. Finch

J. Finch

University of Aberdeen - Business School

Robert McMaster

University of Aberdeen - Business School

W. Dolfsma

University of Groningen School of Economics and Business

Date Written: November 29, 2005

Abstract

This paper endeavours to contribute to the growing institutionalist literature on the conception of the institution. We draw from John Davis’ (2003) analysis of the individual in posing the questions: what differentiates institutions, and how can changing institutions be identified through time and space? Our analysis develops Searle’s (2005) argument that language is the fundamental institution. Searle’s argument is rather functionalist, however, and does not convey the ambiguity of language. Moreover, language and understanding, surely when related to most institutions in real life, delineate and circumscribe a community. A community cannot function without a common language, as Searle argued, but language also constitutes a community’s boundaries, and excludes unsavoury outsiders or alien topics for discussion. This is how institutions both constrain and enable. By drawing upon Luhmann’s (1995) systems analysis and notions of discourse, communication, and text we aim to augment the existing analytical role ascribed to habit in institutional analysis. Thus, we submit, understanding institutional change and thus durability may progress.

Keywords: Institutions, Discourse Re-Indentification, Institutional Change, Language

Suggested Citation

Finch, J. and McMaster, Robert and Dolfsma, Wilfred, Institutions, Institutional Change, Language, and Searle (November 29, 2005). ERIM Report Series Reference No. ERS-2005-067-ORG, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=861415

J. Finch

University of Aberdeen - Business School ( email )

Edward Wright Building
Dunbar Street
Old Aberdeen AB24 3QY, Scotland AB24 3QY
United Kingdom

Robert McMaster

University of Aberdeen - Business School ( email )

Edward Wright Building
Dunbar Street
Old Aberdeen AB24 3QY, Scotland AB24 3QY
United Kingdom

Wilfred Dolfsma

University of Groningen School of Economics and Business ( email )

P.O. Box 800
9700 AH Groningen, Groningen 9700 AV
Netherlands

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