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Wieser as a Theorist of Institutional Change


  • Agnès Festré

    University of Nice Sophia Antipolis, France)

  • Pierre Garrouste

    University of Nice Sophia Antipolis, France)


In this contribution, we provide an interpretation of Friedrich von Wieser’s contribution to economics, which pays tribute to the originality of his work, and particularly his view of how institutions interfere with individual behavior. This interaction takes place within a disequilibrium framework where social influences such as power or social class, and psychological factors such as force of habit or herd behavior, are the product of human action but also constitute constraints on further action. The section 1 stresses the institutionalist background of Wieser’s economics. We concentrate on Wieser’s general method – which we assimilate to an example of Joseph Agassi’s (1975) institutional individualism – and his analysis of the emergence and evolution of institutions via the dynamics of leaders and masses. In the section 2, we reinforce and illustrate the ‘institutionalist’ stamp of Wieser’s economics by focusing on his work on monetary economics (Wieser 1904, 1909a, 1909b, 1927b) and his analysis of the emergence of money, based on our reading of Wieser’s Social Economics (Wieser [1927a] 1967) and The Law of Power (Wieser [1926] 1983).

Suggested Citation

  • Agnès Festré & Pierre Garrouste, 2015. "Wieser as a Theorist of Institutional Change," GREDEG Working Papers 2015-37, Groupe de REcherche en Droit, Economie, Gestion (GREDEG CNRS), Université Côte d'Azur, France.
  • Handle: RePEc:gre:wpaper:2015-37

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Robert Ekelund & Mark Thornton, 1987. "Wieser and the Austrian connection to social economics," Forum for Social Economics, Springer;The Association for Social Economics, vol. 16(2), pages 1-12, September.
    2. Agnes Festre & Pierre Garrouste, 2008. "Rationality, behavior, institutional, and economic change in Schumpeter," Journal of Economic Methodology, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 15(4), pages 365-390.
    3. Erich Streissler, 1972. "To What Extent Was the Austrian School Marginalist?," History of Political Economy, Duke University Press, vol. 4(2), pages 426-441, Fall.
    4. Gilles Campagnolo & Christel Vivel, 2012. "Before Schumpeter: forerunners of the theory of the entrepreneur in 1900s German political economy -- Werner Sombart, Friedrich von Wieser," The European Journal of the History of Economic Thought, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 19(6), pages 908-943, December.
    5. Samuels, Warren J., 1983. "The Influence of Friedrich von Wieser on Joseph A. Schumpeter Presidential Address History of Economics Society May, 1982," Journal of the History of Economic Thought, Cambridge University Press, vol. 4(02), pages 5-19, December.
    6. Agnes Festre & Eric Nasica, 2009. "Schumpeter on money, banking and finance: an institutionalist perspective," The European Journal of the History of Economic Thought, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 16(2), pages 325-356.
    7. Arrigo Opocher, 2005. "FORMALIZING WIESER's THEORY OF DISTRIBUTION: CONSISTENT IMPUTATION IN ALTERNATIVE THEORETICAL PERSPECTIVES," Metroeconomica, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 56(2), pages 200-220, May.
    8. Richard Arena & Sandye Gloria-Palermo, 2007. "Evolutionary Themes in the Austrian Tradition: Menger, von Wieser and Schumpeter on Institutions and Rationality," Chapters, in: Geoffrey M. Hodgson (ed.), The Evolution of Economic Institutions, chapter 11, Edward Elgar Publishing.
    9. Eric Nasica & Agnès Festré, 2009. "Schumpeter on money, banking and finance: an institutionalist perspective," Post-Print halshs-00720753, HAL.
    10. Samuels, Warren & Blitch, Charles P., 1979. "Research Queries," Journal of the History of Economic Thought, Cambridge University Press, vol. 1(02), pages 25-27, June.
    11. F. H. Knight, 1925. "A Note on Professor Clark's Illustration of Marginal Productivity," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 33, pages 550-550.
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    1. Uchendu Eugene Chigbu & Gaynor Paradza & Walter Dachaga, 2019. "Differentiations in Women’s Land Tenure Experiences: Implications for Women’s Land Access and Tenure Security in Sub-Saharan Africa," Land, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 8(2), pages 1-21, January.

    More about this item


    Wieser; emergence and evolution of institutions; money; economic sociology;

    JEL classification:

    • B15 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - History of Economic Thought through 1925 - - - Historical; Institutional; Evolutionary
    • B31 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - History of Economic Thought: Individuals - - - Individuals

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