Institutions: A Concept For A Theory Of Conformity And Innovation
This paper proposes a broad concept of institutions and examines some theoretically relevant aspects of this and alternative concepts. The proposed concept is broad in two aspects: it includes a mental dimension not reduced to expectations, allowing institutional patterns of thought to include models of varying degrees of generality and precision; and it includes institutions that are norms of some kind as well as others that are not. Institutions may be social norms (legal or informal; moral or epistemic), decision- theoretic norms (a concept introduced to designate patterns that an individual should follow out of self-interest), or conventions without norm status. The proposed concept is able to underlie a theory that emphasizes the possibility of creative, unconventional behavior without implying that such behavior is irrational or necessarily subject to social sanctions. This is different from several concepts of institutions in institutional economics and in sociology.
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