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Institutionalisms and Structuralisms: Opposites, Substitutes, or Relatives?

Bruno Théret

Cahiers d’économie politique / Papers in Political Economy, 2003, issue 44, 51-78

Abstract: Are institutionalism and structuralism compatible or do they confront each other? This article suggests an answer to this question, starting from an analysis of the structuration of these two paradigmatic fields of social sciences. It observes the existence in economics of both structuralist institutionalisms, exemplified by the old American "institutional economics" of John R. Commons, and institutionalist strlll(cturalisms,whose one case is given by the French "régulation theory". It also shows that for catching the complexity of economic facts in a reasonable and not oversimplifying way, economic approaches which articulate the two theoretical paradigms have comparative advantages. The paper is divided in three sections. The first and the second sections are devoted to the analysis of institutionalism and structuralism, successively considered as fields of the social sciences where intellectual forces are fighting for the monopoly of the legitimate definition of institutions and structures respectively. The question of the existence of elective affinities or even interdependances between these two fields is also addressed throughout these two sections. The third one analyses the way structures, institutions and individual behaviours conceptually interfere when such elective affinities and interdependances are considered.

JEL-codes: A12 B25 B40 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2003
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