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Le istituzioni in sociologia ed economia: «hic sunt leones»?

LEONARDO PARRI
Stato e mercato
No. 46 (1) (APRILE 1996), pp. 123-155
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/24650283
Page Count: 33
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Le istituzioni in sociologia ed economia: «hic sunt leones»?
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Abstract

This article reviews the sociological and economic literature on the concept of institution, after having ascertained that its recent revival as analytical tool in the social sciences has often been either inconsistent or superficial. First of all, some basic conceptual distinctions are introduced: organization and institution, organized and spontaneous orders; pragmatic and organic institutions; regulative and constitutive rules; habits and institutions. An institution is defined as a frame of shared regulative and constitutive rules faced by social actors. Two traditions of institutional thought are then singled out. The first one, typical of the Austrian School (Menger, Hayek), has an evolutionary and methodological individualist view of institutions and considers their rules as prudential devices in order to reach individual aims; the second one, typical of American economic institutionalists (Veblen, W. Hamilton, Commons) and the early Parsons, is holist and regards institutional rules as constraints limiting the socially destructive effects of individual interest-seeking, thanks either to a common moral basis or the power of collective action. Contemporary neo-institutionalists (Scott, DiMaggio, Powell, ecc.) are placed in between: they treat institutions with a holist approach, placed at the meso-level of societal sectors, but consider rules as cognitive tools and prudential aids to achieve individual aims. Eventually, I look into recent methodological individualist approaches to institutions, which deem them as regulative frames preventing strongly sub-optimal outcomes in mixed-motive games (Harsanyi, E. Ostrom, Scharpf, J. Knight, ecc.).

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