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Economics, postcolonial theory and the problem of culture: institutional analysis and hybridity


  • Eiman O. Zein-Elabdin


Postcolonial theory has not yet made an impact in economics. This may be explained by the different treatment of culture in each field. In postcolonial theory, culture serves as a central analytical category. In economics, despite increased attention in recent history, general approaches to culture continue to underestimate its role in economic behaviour and decision making. Borrowing some insights from postcolonial theory, this paper calls for further attention to culture in economics. It is argued that such a turn improves current understanding of contemporary economic phenomena, and allows subaltern cultures (currently theorised as less developed) to equally participate in the global construction of social meaning and economic well being. It is further argued that incorporating the postcolonial idea of hybridity into the institutional economic approach holds the most promise for theorising contemporary postcolonial economies. This argument is illustrated by examining some hybrid economic patterns within Africa. Copyright The Author 2009. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Cambridge Political Economy Society. All rights reserved., Oxford University Press.

Suggested Citation

  • Eiman O. Zein-Elabdin, 2009. "Economics, postcolonial theory and the problem of culture: institutional analysis and hybridity," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 33(6), pages 1153-1167, November.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:cambje:v:33:y:2009:i:6:p:1153-1167

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