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Cultural Beliefs and the Organization of Society: A Historical and Theoretical Reflection on Collectivist and Individualist Societies

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  • Greif, Avner

Abstract

This paper integrates game-theoretical and sociological concepts to conduct a comparative historical analysis of the relations between culture and institutions. It indicates the importance of culture, and in particular cultural beliefs, in determining institutions, in institutional path dependence, and in forestalling intersociety successful adoption of institutions. Examination of institutional change in two premodern societies from the Muslim and the Latin worlds yields that their distinct institutional structures resemble those found by social psychologists to differentiate contemporary developing and developed economies. This suggests the historical importance of distinct cultures and the related societal organizations in economic development. Copyright 1994 by University of Chicago Press.

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  • Greif, Avner, 1994. "Cultural Beliefs and the Organization of Society: A Historical and Theoretical Reflection on Collectivist and Individualist Societies," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 102(5), pages 912-950, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:ucp:jpolec:v:102:y:1994:i:5:p:912-50
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. John M. Litwack, 1991. "Legality and Market Reform in Soviet-Type Economies," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 5(4), pages 77-89, Fall.
    2. Greif, Avner, 1989. "Reputation and Coalitions in Medieval Trade: Evidence on the Maghribi Traders," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 49(04), pages 857-882, December.
    3. Dawes, Robyn M & Thaler, Richard H, 1988. "Anomalies: Cooperation," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 2(3), pages 187-197, Summer.
    4. Banerjee, Abhijit V & Newman, Andrew F, 1993. "Occupational Choice and the Process of Development," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 101(2), pages 274-298, April.
    5. Cole, Harold L & Mailath, George J & Postlewaite, Andrew, 1992. "Social Norms, Savings Behavior, and Growth," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 100(6), pages 1092-1125, December.
    6. MacLeod, W Bentley & Malcomson, James M, 1989. "Implicit Contracts, Incentive Compatibility, and Involuntary Unemployment," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 57(2), pages 447-480, March.
    7. Lopez, Robert Sabatino, 1943. "European Merchants in the Medieval Indies: The Evidence of Commercial Documents," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 3(02), pages 164-184, November.
    8. Geanakoplos, John & Pearce, David & Stacchetti, Ennio, 1989. "Psychological games and sequential rationality," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 1(1), pages 60-79, March.
    9. Greif, Avner & Milgrom, Paul & Weingast, Barry R, 1994. "Coordination, Commitment, and Enforcement: The Case of the Merchant Guild," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 102(4), pages 745-776, August.
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