IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

Social Economics and Evolutionary Institutionalism Today


  • Wolfram Elsner


This paper discusses theoretical and methodological elements that constitute social economics. It also considers those elements for evolutionary (Veblenian) institutional economics. It investigates how these “heterodoxies” may further converge. Such convergence would probably not trigger a complete unification, but lead to a broadly defined common research program and a strategy for joint “heterodox” survival, in face of the ranking game of the neoclassical “mainstream” and of the dominant powers supporting it as the discipline providing ideological legitimization. A common denominator of “heterodoxies” in terms of real-world orientation, direct interdependency and interaction of agents (social decision situations), appropriate complexity, and the treatment of values is drafted. Theoretical concepts discussed include complex and open systems, individual agency, institutions, embeddedness, networks, social reform, and process orientation. Formal methodological developments considered are complex modeling, game theory, or computer simulations. We arrive at a more formal common basis, which we term socio-economics. We also consider the relations of evolution and institutions, the institutional dichotomy, and the theory of institutional change. The monism of the “market” of the “mainstream” turns out to dissolve into the institutional diversity of real-world network forms, which helps explaining real-world forms of markets, hierarchies, or spatial clusters. Focuses of “heterodox” convergence will have to be the related “microfoundations” and “macrofoundations” projects, integrating an interdisciplinary “naturalistic” approach to genetic-cultural co-evolution of cooperation, and social reform. While modern socio-economics makes “heterodoxies” leading in economic research, their future still appears open between ideological cleansing and extinction through the mainstream, and proactive paradigmatic pluralism.

Suggested Citation

  • Wolfram Elsner, 2017. "Social Economics and Evolutionary Institutionalism Today," Forum for Social Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 46(1), pages 52-77, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:fosoec:v:46:y:2017:i:1:p:52-77
    DOI: 10.1080/07360932.2014.964744

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    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.

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Sydney Winter & Giovanni Dosi, 2000. "Interpreting Economic Change: Evolution, Structures and Games," LEM Papers Series 2000/08, Laboratory of Economics and Management (LEM), Sant'Anna School of Advanced Studies, Pisa, Italy.
    2. Elsner, Wolfram & Heinrich, Torsten & Schwardt, Henning, 2014. "The Microeconomics of Complex Economies," Elsevier Monographs, Elsevier, edition 1, number 9780124115859.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Lynne Chester, 2019. "Judging Heterodox Economics: A Response to Hodgson's Criticisms," Economic Thought, World Economics Association, vol. 8(1), pages 1-21, June.

    More about this item


    Access and download statistics


    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:taf:fosoec:v:46:y:2017:i:1:p:52-77. 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: (Chris Longhurst). General contact details of provider: .

    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.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with 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.