The Role of Inter-Group Relationships in Institutional Analysis
Taking value as the socio-economic analogue of biological or cultural fitness, in this paper I start a study of the interaction between individual-level and group-level explanatory mechanisms by looking for what kind of intra-group relationships obtains given the nature of inter-group relationships. Specifically, it is shown that when value comes from appropriating resources from other groups, inter-group relationships are conflictual or war-like and, as a consequence, intra-group-relationships are centralized and hierarchical; when the value creation process involves niche-competition between groups, inter-group relationships are fission-fusion with commitment and intra-group relationships are decentralized and egalitarian; finally, when value comes from appropriating occasional benefits from cooperation, inter-group relationships are indistinguishable from intra-group relationships, and the latter are decentralized and hierarchical. Interpreting intra-group relationships as different forms of social order and the division of labour, applications to political and economic institutions are also provided. Exploitation, a well-defined concept in the paper without recourse to the labour theory of value, is shown to be consistent with some of these institutions and, particularly, with the absence of explicit coercion
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