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Spontaneous order and social norms. Hayek’s theory of socio-cultural evolution

Péter Gedeon

Corvinus Economics Working Papers (CEWP) from Corvinus University of Budapest

Abstract: Hayek's theory of socio-cultural evolution is a generalization of his theory on spontaneous market order. Hayek explains both the emergence of market and social institutions serving as a social basis for that order within the framework of a unified evolutionary logic. This logic interprets the emergence and survival of spontaneous order and group-level rules of conduct as an unintended consequence of human action. In order to explain the emergence of social norms exclusively on the basis of methodological individualism, one would have to give up an exclusively evolutionary explanation of these norms. Since Hayek applies the invisiblehand explanation to the investigation of social norms, he combines the position of methodological individualism with functionalist-evolutionary arguments in his analysis. Hayek's theory of socio-cultural evolution represents a theory in the framework of which methodological individualism and functionalism do not crowd out but complement each other.

Keywords: socio-cultural evolution; invisible-hand explanations; spontaneous market order; social norms; methodological individualism; functionalism (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: A13 B25 B52 B53 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2015
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-evo, nep-hme, nep-hpe and nep-soc
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