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Integrating social conflict into economic theory

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  • Mehrdad Vahabi

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Mehrdad Vahabi, 2010. "Integrating social conflict into economic theory," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 34(4), pages 687-708.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:cambje:v:34:y:2010:i:4:p:687-708
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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1093/cje/bep043
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    Cited by:

    1. Mehrdad Vahabi, 2011. "The Economics of Destructive Power," Chapters,in: Handbook on the Economics of Conflict, chapter 5 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    2. Antoine Pietri & Tarik Tazdait & Mehrdad Vahabi, 2013. "Empire Building and Price Competition," Post-Print hal-00832240, HAL.
    3. Mehrdad Vahabi, 2009. "A Critical Review of Strategic Conflict Theory and Socio-political Instability Models," Revue d'économie politique, Dalloz, vol. 119(6), pages 817-858.
    4. Pham, Hai-Vu, 2010. "La dimension conflictuelle des projets d’infrastructure : essais sur la décision publique, le contentieux et les prix immobiliers," Economics Thesis from University Paris Dauphine, Paris Dauphine University, number 123456789/5656 edited by Torre, André & Kirat, Thierry, December.
    5. Mehrdad Vahabi, 2011. "Appropriation, violent enforcement, and transaction costs: a critical survey," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 147(1), pages 227-253, April.
    6. Caruso Raul, 2011. "On the Nature of Peace Economics," Peace Economics, Peace Science, and Public Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 16(2), pages 1-13, January.
    7. Paul Maarek & Michael Dorsch & Karl Dunz, 2012. "Macro Shocks, Regulatory Quality and Costly Political Action," THEMA Working Papers 2012-41, THEMA (THéorie Economique, Modélisation et Applications), Université de Cergy-Pontoise.

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