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Preface

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  17 August 2009

Douglass C. North
Affiliation:
Washington University, St Louis
John Joseph Wallis
Affiliation:
University of Maryland, College Park
Barry R. Weingast
Affiliation:
Stanford University, California
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Summary

Every explanation of large-scale social change contains a theory of economics, a theory of politics, and a theory of social behavior. Sometimes, as in the materialist theory of Marx, the theories are explicit. Often, however, they are implicit, and even more often theories of economics and politics are independent. Despite a great deal of attention and effort, social science has not come to grips with how economic and political development are connected either in history or in the modern world. The absence of a workable integrated theory of economics and politics reflects the lack of systematic thinking about the central problem of violence in human societies. How societies solve the ubiquitous threat of violence shapes and constrains the forms that human interaction can take, including the form of political and economic systems.

This book lays out a set of concepts that show how societies have used the control of political, economic, religious, and educational activities to limit and contain violence over the last ten thousand years. In most societies, political, economic, religious, and military powers are created through institutions that structure human organizations and relationships. These institutions simultaneously give individuals control over resources and social functions and, by doing so, limit the use of violence by shaping the incentives faced by individuals and groups who have access to violence. We call these patterns of social organization social orders. Our aim is to understand how social orders structure social interactions.

Type
Chapter
Information
Violence and Social Orders
A Conceptual Framework for Interpreting Recorded Human History
, pp. xi - xiv
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2009

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  • Preface
  • Douglass C. North, Washington University, St Louis, John Joseph Wallis, University of Maryland, College Park, Barry R. Weingast, Stanford University, California
  • Book: Violence and Social Orders
  • Online publication: 17 August 2009
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511575839.001
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  • Preface
  • Douglass C. North, Washington University, St Louis, John Joseph Wallis, University of Maryland, College Park, Barry R. Weingast, Stanford University, California
  • Book: Violence and Social Orders
  • Online publication: 17 August 2009
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511575839.001
Available formats
×

Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

  • Preface
  • Douglass C. North, Washington University, St Louis, John Joseph Wallis, University of Maryland, College Park, Barry R. Weingast, Stanford University, California
  • Book: Violence and Social Orders
  • Online publication: 17 August 2009
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511575839.001
Available formats
×