IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/a/hop/hopeec/v42y2010i2p267-295.html
   My bibliography  Save this article

John R. Commons, Wesley N. Hohfeld, and the Origins of Transactional Economics

Author

Listed:
  • Luca Fiorito

Abstract

This article assesses John R. Commons's adoption of Wesley N. Hohfeld's framework of jural opposites and correlatives in order to construct his transactional approach to the study of institutions. Hohfeld's influence on Commons, it is argued, was both positive and negative. On the one hand, Commons followed Hohfeld and recognized that such concepts as property and inheritance actually represent an aggregation of numerous types of legal relations. Hohfeld's schema provided a powerful rhetorical and analytical tool whereby these highly abstract conceptions could be reduced to a limited number of primary elements. Moreover, Hohfeld's schema appeared to be consistent with Commons's general methodological and psychological commitments. On the other hand, Commons's forging of the “transaction” as the elementary unit of economic analysis can be seen as an attempt to go beyond Hohfeld. Commons was in fact unsatisfied with Hohfeld's bilateral treatment of jural relations and with his neglect of the role played by state officials in enforcing transactions and, in so doing, in promoting specific individual interests as collective public policies.

Suggested Citation

  • Luca Fiorito, 2010. "John R. Commons, Wesley N. Hohfeld, and the Origins of Transactional Economics," History of Political Economy, Duke University Press, vol. 42(2), pages 267-295, Summer.
  • Handle: RePEc:hop:hopeec:v:42:y:2010:i:2:p:267-295
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://hope.dukejournals.org/content/42/2/267.full.pdf+html
    File Function: link to full text
    Download Restriction: Access to full text is restricted to subscribers.

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:hop:hopeec:v:42:y:2010:i:2:p:267-295. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Center for the History of Political Economy Webmaster). General contact details of provider: http://www.dukeupress.edu/Catalog/ViewProduct.php?viewby=journal&productid=45614 .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.