Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home
Hostname: page-component-768dbb666b-sz752 Total loading time: 0.409 Render date: 2023-02-06T20:35:28.879Z Has data issue: true Feature Flags: { "useRatesEcommerce": false } hasContentIssue true

Chapter 6 - Beneficial Constraints: On the Economic Limits of Rational Voluntarism

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 June 2012

Wolfgang Streeck
Affiliation:
Max-Planck-Institut for Social Research in Köln, Germany
J. Rogers Hollingsworth
Affiliation:
University of Wisconsin, Madison
Robert Boyer
Affiliation:
CRTEST-CEPREMAP, Paris
Get access

Summary

Economists have succeeded in persuading most people that the performance of an economy improves as social constraints on self-interested rational action are removed. In this essay I wish to argue that, to the contrary, socially institutionalized constraints on the rational voluntarism of interest-maximizing behavior may be economically beneficial, and that systematic recognition of this must have far-reaching implications for both economic theory and the conduct of economic policy.

Note that I am referring not to social but to economic benefits of social constraints, and to constraint rather than choice. In other words, I am not discussing whether or not societies may or should impose constraints on economic behavior for moral reasons; even most economists agree that people should not be allowed to sell and buy babies, regardless of whether this was the free will and perceived rational interest of all parties involved. And I am arguing for the economic benevolence not of individual freedom, but of limitations on individual volition and the pursuit of self-interest. To support high economic performance, I am claiming, a society requires a capacity to prevent advantage-maximizing rational individuals from doing things that they would prefer to do, or to force them to do things that they would prefer not to do.

The suggestion that social institutions constraining the rational voluntarist pursuit of economic advantage, and thereby interfering with the spread and operation of markets, may be economically beneficial directly contests the leading premises of mainstream economics with its laissez-faire conceptual heritage, and strikes right into the heart of darkness of liberal individualism.

Type
Chapter
Information
Contemporary Capitalism
The Embeddedness of Institutions
, pp. 197 - 219
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 1997

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)
181
Cited by

Save book to Kindle

To save this book to your Kindle, first ensure coreplatform@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about saving to your Kindle.

Note you can select to save to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

Available formats
×

Save book to Dropbox

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 Dropbox.

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.

Available formats
×