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Institutional Economic Theory Economics 451 University of Missouri-Kansas City. Essay 2 Topics. Topic 1 - Discuss the Institutionalist theory of human nature a. Key points of theory b. Compare to standard theory.
University of Missouri-Kansas City
Topic 1 - Discuss the Institutionalist theory of human nature
a. Key points of theory
b. Compare to standard theory
Topic 2 - Discuss the concept of culture and its relation to the Veblenian dichotomy
a. Principal elements of culture
b. Key elements of Veblenian dichotomy
White divides the components of culture into four categories: ideological, sociological, sentimental or attitudinal, and technological.
Of the four mentioned categories of culture‑‑ the technological is that which is most basic. White writes: "The technological basis of cultural systems is rather easily demonstrated. All living organisms can maintain themselves as individuals and perpetuate themselves as species only if a certain minimum adjustment to the external world is achieved and maintained. There must be food, protection from the elements, and defense from enemies. These life‑sustaining, life‑perpetuating processes are technological in a broad, but valid, sense; i.e., they are carried on by material, mechanical, biophysical, and biochemical means."
White continues, "It is fairly obvious that the social organization of a people is not only dependent upon their technology but is determined to a great extent, if now wholly, by it. both in form and content. As a matter of fact, a social system might well be defined as the way in which a society makes use of its particular technology in the various life‑sustaining processes: subsistence, protection from the elements, defense from enemies, combating disease, etc.... A hunting people will have one type of social organization as a consequence of this kind of activity, i.e., the use of certain technological implements; an agricultural, pastoral, or industrial people will have another cast to its social system."
The influence of the technology upon the social organization of a particular culture is expressed in two ways.
There is the direct effect of the technological instruments upon the behavior of human organisms.
Second on the social level the instruments relate to one another in a manner designed to make an integrated coherent, social system possible.
Standards of behavior vs real behavior
Trobriand Islanders ‑ incest taboo‑ they show horror at it and seek ways to thwart supernatural punishment.
Trobrinaders ‑ spirit conception of offspring ‑ matrilineal, mothers brother has important social position and it would be subversive for father to be biologically connected.
Forces in Culture: Creative—Permissive—Restrictive
Culture as the combination of symbols and tools S x T = C
What is a symbol?
What is a sign?
William G. Sumner --Mores principle – cultures have gathered beliefs, traditions, myths, legends, rites, and so on that are unique to that culture and make no sense (are irrational) outside of that culture.
Dualism involves two separate roots—
Greek dualisms such as mind - body
Dichotomy involves one root with two separate branches–
Workmanship ‑‑ Predation
Industrial ‑‑ Pecuniary
Making goods ‑- Making money
Clothing ‑‑ Dress
Serviceability ‑‑ Vendibility
Idle Curiosity ‑‑ Vested Interest
Industrial Arts ‑‑ Pecuniary Arts
Machine Process ‑‑ Conscientious Withdrawal of Efficiency
Functional Consumption ‑‑ Conspicuous Consumption
And several more
Tools & Skills
The Veblenian Dichotomy
Myth, Legend, Tradition
Although there is enormous diversity of ceremonial patterns of different societies in different parts of the world, and also great differences in ceremonial patterns of the same society over time, as, e.g., the differences between ancient and modern Italian society, nevertheless, it is possible to identify some major features of ceremonies.
1. Power, authority, class inequality, rank, status, superior/ subordinate are based on the ceremonial aspect and all purport to rest on differences in competence and hence are quasi-technological; Veblen described this as "ceremonial adequacy."