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Institutions, Institutional Change, Language, and Searle

Listed author(s):
  • Dolfsma, W.A.
  • McMaster, R.
  • Finch, J.

This paper endeavours to contribute to the growing institutionalist literature on the conception of the institution. We draw from John Davis’ (2003) analysis of the individual in posing the questions: what differentiates institutions, and how can changing institutions be identified through time and space? Our analysis develops Searle’s (2005) argument that language is the fundamental institution. Searle’s argument is rather functionalist, however, and does not convey the ambiguity of language. Moreover, language and understanding, surely when related to most institutions in real life, delineate and circumscribe a community. A community cannot function without a common language, as Searle argued, but language also constitutes a community’s boundaries, and excludes unsavoury outsiders or alien topics for discussion. This is how institutions both constrain and enable. By drawing upon Luhmann’s (1995) systems analysis and notions of discourse, communication, and text we aim to augment the existing analytical role ascribed to habit in institutional analysis. Thus, we submit, understanding institutional change and thus durability may progress.

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File URL: https://repub.eur.nl/pub/7109/ERS%202005%20067%20ORG.pdf
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Paper provided by Erasmus Research Institute of Management (ERIM), ERIM is the joint research institute of the Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University and the Erasmus School of Economics (ESE) at Erasmus University Rotterdam in its series ERIM Report Series Research in Management with number ERS-2005-067-ORG.

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Date of creation: 29 Nov 2005
Handle: RePEc:ems:eureri:7109
Contact details of provider: Postal:
RSM Erasmus University & Erasmus School of Economics, PoBox 1738, 3000 DR Rotterdam

Phone: 31-10-408 1182
Fax: 31-10-408 9020
Web page: http://www.erim.eur.nl/
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  1. John Davis & Matthias Klaes, 2003. "Reflexivity: curse or cure?," Journal of Economic Methodology, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 10(3), pages 329-352.
  2. Malcolm Rutherford, 2001. "Institutional Economics: Then and Now," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 15(3), pages 173-194, Summer.
  3. Wilfred Dolfsma, 2004. "Institutional Economics and the Formation of Preferences," Books, Edward Elgar Publishing, number 2961.
  4. Paul Nightingale, 2003. "If Nelson and Winter are only half right about tacit knowledge, which half? A Searlean critique of 'codification'," Industrial and Corporate Change, Oxford University Press, vol. 12(2), pages 149-183, April.
  5. Kenneth L. Avio, 2002. "Three problems of social organisation: institutional law and economics meets Habermasian law and democracy," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 26(4), pages 501-520, July.
  6. Searle, John R., 2005. "What is an institution?," Journal of Institutional Economics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 1(01), pages 1-22, June.
  7. Bob Jessop, 2001. "Institutional re(turns) and the strategic - relational approach," Environment and Planning A, Pion Ltd, London, vol. 33(7), pages 1213-1235, July.
  8. Dolfsma, W.A. & Finch, J. & McMaster, R., 2004. "Market and Society: How do they relate, and contribute to welfare?," ERIM Report Series Research in Management ERS-2004-105-ORG, Erasmus Research Institute of Management (ERIM), ERIM is the joint research institute of the Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University and the Erasmus School of Economics (ESE) at Erasmus University Rotterdam.
  9. Geoffrey M. Hodgson, 2003. "The hidden persuaders: institutions and individuals in economic theory," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 27(2), pages 159-175, March.
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