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The Role of Biology and Culture in Veblenian Consumption Dynamics

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  • Christian Cordes

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Abstract

This paper incorporates aspects of humans’ evolved cognition into a formal model of cultural evolution and scrutinizes their interactions with population-level processes. It is shown how the biased transmission of different kinds of behavior via cultural learning processes influences agents’ consumption behavior. Thereby, the model’s learning dynamics are capable of generating typical Veblenian consumption dynamics. Based on these insights, the paper then scrutinizes on the role of humans’ biological heritage and Darwinian concepts in the development of economic theories in general. Moreover, the relation of the ontological basis of biological and cultural evolution is addressed.

Suggested Citation

  • Christian Cordes, 2007. "The Role of Biology and Culture in Veblenian Consumption Dynamics," Papers on Economics and Evolution 2007-13, Philipps University Marburg, Department of Geography.
  • Handle: RePEc:esi:evopap:2007-13
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    File URL: ftp://137.248.191.199/RePEc/esi/discussionpapers/2007-13.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Ernst Fehr & Klaus M. Schmidt, 1999. "A Theory of Fairness, Competition, and Cooperation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 114(3), pages 817-868.
    2. Jack Vromen, 2004. "Conjectural revisionary economic ontology: Outline of an ambitious research agenda for evolutionary economics," Journal of Economic Methodology, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 11(2), pages 213-247.
    3. Ulrich Witt, 2006. "Evolutionary Economics," Papers on Economics and Evolution 2006-05, Philipps University Marburg, Department of Geography.
    4. Ann Jennings & William Waller, 1998. "The Place of Biological Science in Veblen's Economics," History of Political Economy, Duke University Press, vol. 30(2), pages 189-217, Summer.
    5. Markus C. Becker & Nathalie Lazaric & Richard R. Nelson & Sidney G. Winter, 2005. "Applying organizational routines in understanding organizational change," Industrial and Corporate Change, Oxford University Press, vol. 14(5), pages 775-791, October.
    6. Geoffrey M. Hodgson, 2002. "Darwinism in economics: from analogy to ontology," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, vol. 12(3), pages 259-281.
    7. Yew-Kwang Ng, 2003. "From preference to happiness: Towards a more complete welfare economics," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer;The Society for Social Choice and Welfare, vol. 20(2), pages 307-350, March.
    8. repec:mes:jeciss:v:41:y:2007:i:1:p:155-179 is not listed on IDEAS
    9. H. Leibenstein, 1950. "Bandwagon, Snob, and Veblen Effects in the Theory of Consumers' Demand," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 64(2), pages 183-207.
    10. Hodgson, Geoffrey M. & Knudsen, Thorbjorn, 2006. "Why we need a generalized Darwinism, and why generalized Darwinism is not enough," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 61(1), pages 1-19, September.
    11. Thorbj, rn Knudsen, 2002. "Economic selection theory," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, vol. 12(4), pages 443-470.
    12. Rubin, Paul H., 1982. "Evolved ethics and efficient ethics," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 3(2-3), pages 161-174.
    13. Christian Cordes, 2004. "Veblen's "Instinct of Workmanship," its Cognitive Foundations, and Some Implications for Economic Theory," Papers on Economics and Evolution 2004-01, Philipps University Marburg, Department of Geography.
    14. Joseph E. Harrington & Jr., 1999. "Rigidity of Social Systems," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 107(1), pages 40-64, February.
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    Cited by:

    1. Christian Schubert, 2014. "“Generalized Darwinism” and the quest for an evolutionary theory of policy-making," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, vol. 24(3), pages 479-513, July.
    2. Christian Schubert, 2009. "Darwinism in Economics and the Evolutionary Theory of Policy-Making," Papers on Economics and Evolution 2009-10, Philipps University Marburg, Department of Geography.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Conspicuous consumption; Economic theory development; Evolutionary economics; Darwinism; Cultural evolution Length 31 pages;

    JEL classification:

    • A12 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics - - - Relation of Economics to Other Disciplines
    • B41 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - Economic Methodology - - - Economic Methodology
    • B52 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - Current Heterodox Approaches - - - Historical; Institutional; Evolutionary
    • C60 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Mathematical Methods; Programming Models; Mathematical and Simulation Modeling - - - General
    • D11 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Theory

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