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Gypsy law

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  • Peter Leeson

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Abstract

How do the members of societies that can’t use government or simple ostracism produce social order? To investigate this question I use economics to analyze Gypsy law. Gypsy law leverages superstition to enforce desirable conduct in Gypsy societies where government is unavailable and simple ostracism is ineffective. According to Gypsy law, unguarded contact with the lower half of the human body is ritually polluting, ritual defilement is physically contagious, and non-Gypsies are in an extreme state of such defilement. These superstitions repair holes in simple ostracism among Gypsies, enabling them to secure social cooperation without government. Gypsies’ belief system is an efficient institutional response to the constraints they face on their choice of mechanisms of social control. Copyright Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Springer in its journal Public Choice.

Volume (Year): 155 (2013)
Issue (Month): 3 (June)
Pages: 273-292

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Handle: RePEc:kap:pubcho:v:155:y:2013:i:3:p:273-292

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Web page: http://www.springerlink.com/link.asp?id=100332

Related research

Keywords: Gypsies; Superstition; Private order; Self-governance; Anarchy;

References

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  1. Peter T. Leeson, 2007. "An-arrgh-chy: The Law and Economics of Pirate Organization," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 115(6), pages 1049-1094, December.
  2. Posner, Richard A, 1980. "A Theory of Primitive Society, with Special Reference to Law," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 23(1), pages 1-53, April.
  3. Clay, Karen, 1997. "Trade without Law: Private-Order Institutions in Mexican California," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 13(1), pages 202-31, April.
  4. Clifford F. Thies, 2000. "The Success of American Communes," Southern Economic Journal, Southern Economic Association, vol. 67(1), pages 186-199, July.
  5. Eli Berman, 1998. "Sect, Subsidy, and Sacrifice: An Economist's View of Ultra-Orthodox Jews," NBER Working Papers 6715, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Greif, Avner, 1989. "Reputation and Coalitions in Medieval Trade: Evidence on the Maghribi Traders," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 49(04), pages 857-882, December.
  7. Greif, Avner, 1993. "Contract Enforceability and Economic Institutions in Early Trade: the Maghribi Traders' Coalition," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(3), pages 525-48, June.
  8. Skarbek, David, 2012. "Prison gangs, norms, and organizations," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 82(1), pages 96-109.
  9. James Kostelnik & David Skarbek, 2013. "The governance institutions of a drug trafficking organization," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 156(1), pages 95-103, July.
  10. Iannaccone, Laurence R, 1992. "Sacrifice and Stigma: Reducing Free-Riding in Cults, Communes, and Other Collectives," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 100(2), pages 271-91, April.
  11. Peter T. Leeson, 2009. "The Laws of Lawlessness," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 38(2), pages 471-503, 06.
  12. Peter Leeson, 2009. "The calculus of piratical consent: the myth of the myth of social contract," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 139(3), pages 443-459, June.
  13. Avinash Dixit, 2009. "Governance Institutions and Economic Activity," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(1), pages 5-24, March.
  14. David Skarbek, 2010. "Putting the "Con" into Constitutions: The Economics of Prison Gangs," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 26(2), pages 183-211.
  15. Peter T. Leeson, 2008. "Social Distance and Self-Enforcing Exchange," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 37(1), pages 161-188, 01.
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