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From Possession to Property: Preferences and the Role of Culture

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  • Uta-Maria Niederle

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Abstract

The paper investigates the interplay between the institutions of law and property and innate propensities towards possession. The questions to be answered are: How do property relations emerge in historical-anthropological terms in contrast to the well-known constitutional perspective and what role do preferences - as human cognitive and behavioural dispositions - play in this process? The paper conjectures that possessiveness towards specific objects together with a primary attitude toward first rules of law, that is some rule preference and commitment, shape patterns and outcomes of property relations. More complex structures of property relations have developed together with technological advances. The differences in property relations across different societies result partly from diverse ecological conditions and partly from culturally transmitted traditions.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Philipps University Marburg, Department of Geography in its series Papers on Economics and Evolution with number 2004-06.

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Length: 33 pages
Date of creation: Apr 2004
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:esi:evopap:2004-06

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Web page: http://www.uni-marburg.de/fb19/
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Keywords: property rights; possessive behaviour; culture; law; preferences; cognition; anthropology;

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  1. Ben-Ner, Avner & Putterman, Louis, 2000. "On some implications of evolutionary psychology for the study of preferences and institutions," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 43(1), pages 91-99, September.
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  7. Anderson, C. Leigh & Swimmer, Eugene, 1997. "Some empirical evidence on property rights of first peoples," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 33(1), pages 1-22, May.
  8. Hirshleifer, Jack, 1977. "Economics from a Biological Viewpoint," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, University of Chicago Press, vol. 20(1), pages 1-52, April.
  9. Posner, Richard A, 1980. "A Theory of Primitive Society, with Special Reference to Law," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, University of Chicago Press, vol. 23(1), pages 1-53, April.
  10. Bailey, Martin J, 1992. "Approximate Optimality of Aboriginal Property Rights," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, University of Chicago Press, vol. 35(1), pages 183-98, April.
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  12. Schlicht Ekkehart, 2000. "Aestheticism in The Theory of Custom," Journal des Economistes et des Etudes Humaines, De Gruyter, De Gruyter, vol. 10(1), pages 20, March.
  13. Schlicht, Ekkehart, 1998. "On Custom in the Economy," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, Oxford University Press, number 9780198292241, October.
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