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Integrating social conflict into economic theory

  • Mehrdad Vahabi

The generalisation of Coasian theorem to the power relationship amounts to depicting conflict as a bargaining process between conflictual parties that are, simultaneously, both partners and adversaries. This perspective leads to different models of 'rational conflicts' i.e. a threat of conflict without any real clash. An alternative approach is developed by different models inspired by the Public Choice School, which build upon the logic of coercive power within the framework of a self-interested behaviour. The integration of 'social conflicts' in a narrowly defined individual cost/benefit theoretical framework has resulted in reducing 'social conflict' to real private (but not social) conflict. In other words, economic theory has considered social protesters either as potential or actual looters but rarely as a group of people struggling for a common cause. Integration of social conflict into economic theory will require: (i) abandoning the ubiquitous market model when describing conflictual relationships; (ii) accepting the logic of force or coercive power as a starting point; and (iii) expanding the idea of interest to include encompassing (including class) interest. Copyright The Author 2009. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Cambridge Political Economy Society. All rights reserved., Oxford University Press.

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Article provided by Oxford University Press in its journal Cambridge Journal of Economics.

Volume (Year): 34 (2010)
Issue (Month): 4 ()
Pages: 687-708

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Handle: RePEc:oup:cambje:v:34:y:2010:i:4:p:687-708
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