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From equilibrium to autopoiesis: A Luhmannian reading of Veblenian evolutionary economics

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  • Valentinov, Vladislav

Abstract

The paper reconstructs the Veblenian critique of the pecuniary economy from the perspective of Niklas Luhmann's theory of autopoietic social systems. Luhmann argued that social systems relieve people from the overwhelming civilizational complexity, but develop autopoietic properties hindering rational solutions to human problems. This argument allows seeing the pecuniary economy as an important complexity-reducing device, which, however, develops excessive autonomy from the embedding societal and ecological environment. For this reason, like other autopoietic systems, the economy has a high chance of becoming societally and ecologically unsustainable. While Veblen criticized the obsession of classical economics with equilibrium and the natural order, Luhmann urged to replace the notion of equilibrium with that of autopoiesis, which focuses attention on the sustainability problem. Accentuating this problem is shown to be the main evolutionary economics implication of Luhmann's work.

Suggested Citation

  • Valentinov, Vladislav, 2015. "From equilibrium to autopoiesis: A Luhmannian reading of Veblenian evolutionary economics," Economic Systems, Elsevier, vol. 39(1), pages 143-155.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:ecosys:v:39:y:2015:i:1:p:143-155 DOI: 10.1016/j.ecosys.2014.10.004
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. repec:zbw:espost:170540 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Vladislav Valentinov, 2017. "The Rawlsian Critique of Utilitarianism: A Luhmannian Interpretation," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 142(1), pages 25-35, April.
    3. Steven E. Wallis & Vladislav Valentinov, 2017. "A Limit to Our Thinking and Some Unanticipated Moral Consequences: A Science of Conceptual Systems Perspective with Some Potential Solutions," Systemic Practice and Action Research, Springer, vol. 30(2), pages 103-116, April.
    4. repec:zbw:espost:170725 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Chatalova, Lioudmila & Müller, Daniel & Valentinov, Vladislav & Balmann, Alfons, 2016. "The rise of the food risk society and the changing nature of the technological treadmill," EconStor Open Access Articles, ZBW - German National Library of Economics, pages 1-10.
    6. repec:zbw:espost:170724 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Valentinov, Vladislav & Hielscher, Stefan & Pies, Ingo, 2015. "Nonprofit organizations, institutional economics, and systems thinking," Economic Systems, Elsevier, vol. 39(3), pages 491-501.
    8. Vladislav Valentinov & Stefan Hielscher & Ingo Pies, 2016. "Emergence: A Systems Theory’s Challenge to Ethics," Systemic Practice and Action Research, Springer, vol. 29(6), pages 597-610, December.
    9. Valentinov, Vladislav & Vaceková, Gabriela, 2015. "Sustainability of Rural Nonprofit Organizations: Czech Republic and Beyond," EconStor Open Access Articles, ZBW - German National Library of Economics, pages 9890-9906.
    10. repec:zbw:espost:170726 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Niklas Luhmann; Thorstein Veblen; Evolutionary economics; Autopoiesis; Economic system; Systems theory;

    JEL classification:

    • A12 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics - - - Relation of Economics to Other Disciplines
    • B52 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - Current Heterodox Approaches - - - Historical; Institutional; Evolutionary
    • P10 - Economic Systems - - Capitalist Systems - - - General
    • Z13 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Economic Sociology; Economic Anthropology; Language; Social and Economic Stratification

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