Preferences and novelty: a multidisciplinary perspective

Wilhelm Ruprecht

in Innovation By Demand

Published by Manchester University Press

Published in print August 2002 | ISBN: 9780719062674
Published online July 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781781700273 | DOI:
Preferences and novelty: a multidisciplinary perspective

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This chapter examines how consumption fits into ‘evolutionary’ models of economic development. When only the supply side of growth is looked at in the presence of market satiation, both product and process innovations are complementary preconditions for sustainable economic growth. Without the introduction of new products, an increasing share of resources would remain unemployed. Neoclassical theory finds thinking about the case of consumer goods novelty particularly difficult, because the adoption of only a subset of new commodities can only be reconciled with an assumption of given preferences. Thus a critical question is how preferences for new commodities come into being, how new goods are adopted. This chapter explores the thinking on this topic of a number of writers, from a range of disciplines, including neoclassical economists, psychologists, and socio-biologists. It concludes that biological and psychological perspectives, fitted into frameworks of evolutionary economics, have much to tell us about the formation of preferences, and economists should be open to such diverse approaches if they are to understand the relationship between innovation and demand.

Keywords: demand; economic development; consumption; preferences; consumer goods; evolutionary economics; innovation; neoclassical economists; psychologists; socio-biologists

Chapter.  8387 words. 

Subjects: Political Economy

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