“Economizing” and the Evolution of Political-Economic Institutions

Wolfgang Streeck

in Re-Forming Capitalism

Published in print March 2010 | ISBN: 9780199573981
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191702136 | DOI:
“Economizing” and the Evolution of Political-Economic Institutions

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Economic functionalism supposedly answers questions regarding how the development of social systems should be conceived as ‘economizing’ and other such questions unambiguously and affirmatively. The chapter introduces six points where economistic-functionalist theories of social order have failed to account for the essential elements: such theories do not specify a collective agent to design and build social institutions that maximize the return on economic resources; such theories could assume an ‘invisible hand’ to account for corrupt activities of politicians or firms; even if there is a societal agent for designing national institutions, the question regarding the achievement of institutional rationalization remains open; economic functionalism assumes that societies can be structures specifically for efficient economic performance; a mismatch would exist that concerns the extent to which a systemic rationalizer knows how to maximize efficiency; and designers and redesigners of economic institutions may have biases.

Keywords: economizing; economistic-functionalist theories; societal agent; economic performance; efficiency; bias

Chapter.  5890 words. 

Subjects: Political Economy

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