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Explaining the Economic Trajectories of Civilizations: The Systemic Approach

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  • Timur Kuran

Abstract

A civilization constitutes a durable social system of complementary traits. Some of the complementarities of any given civilization are between elements of material life and ones commonly treated as integral to culture. Identifying the mechanisms responsible for a civilization's observed trajectory involves, therefore, causal relationships that cross the often-postulated cultural-material divide. Complementarities make it difficult to transplant institutions across civilizations on a piecemeal basis. They imply that reforms designed to jump start an economy will fail unless they are comprehensive. Civilizational analysis can benefit, therefore, from attention to institutional complementarities, including ones involving both cultural and material variables.

Suggested Citation

  • Timur Kuran, 2010. "Explaining the Economic Trajectories of Civilizations: The Systemic Approach," Working Papers 10-15, Duke University, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:duk:dukeec:10-15
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    civilization; culture; economic development; institution; institutional complementarity;

    JEL classification:

    • N00 - Economic History - - General - - - General
    • P50 - Economic Systems - - Comparative Economic Systems - - - General
    • O10 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - General

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