Skip to main content
Violence and Social Orders
  • Get access
    Check if you have access via personal or institutional login
  • Cited by 525
  • Cited by
    This book has been cited by the following publications. This list is generated based on data provided by CrossRef.

    Kotarski, Kristijan and Petak, Zdravko 2019. Policy-Making at the European Periphery. p. 1.

    Petak, Zdravko and Kotarski, Kristijan 2019. Policy-Making at the European Periphery. p. 321.

    Vuković, Vuk 2019. Policy-Making at the European Periphery. p. 107.


    Ohiomu, Sylvester and Oluyemi, Sunday Ade 2018. Resolving Revenue Allocation Challenges in Nigeria: Implications for Sustainable National Development. The American Economist, p. 056943451877532.

    Bhaumik, Sumon Kumar 2018. Emerging Markets from a Multidisciplinary Perspective. p. 3.

    Rindermann, Heiner and Carl, Noah 2018. Human Rights: Why Countries Differ. Comparative Sociology, Vol. 17, Issue. 1, p. 29.

    Ngo, Christine and Tarko, Vlad 2018. Economic development in a rent-seeking society: socialism, state capitalism and crony capitalism in Vietnam. Canadian Journal of Development Studies / Revue canadienne d'études du développement, p. 1.

    Rothstein, Bo 2018. Gender and Corruption. p. 37.

    HARWICK, CAMERON 2018. Money and its institutional substitutes: the role of exchange institutions in human cooperation. Journal of Institutional Economics, Vol. 14, Issue. 4, p. 689.

    Ko, Chiu Yu Koyama, Mark and Sng, Tuan-Hwee 2018. UNIFIED CHINA AND DIVIDED EUROPE. International Economic Review, Vol. 59, Issue. 1, p. 285.

    Salter, Alexander William and Young, Andrew T. 2018. Medieval representative assemblies: collective action and antecedents of limited government. Constitutional Political Economy, Vol. 29, Issue. 2, p. 171.

    Hertler, Steven C. Figueredo, Aurelio José Peñaherrera-Aguirre, Mateo Fernandes, Heitor B. F. and Woodley of Menie, Michael A. 2018. Life History Evolution. p. 255.

    Bogart, Dan 2018. Party Connections, Interest Groups and the Slow Diffusion of Infrastructure: Evidence from Britain's First Transport Revolution. The Economic Journal, Vol. 128, Issue. 609, p. 541.

    Piñeiro Rodríguez, Rafael and Rosenblatt, Fernando 2018. Stability and incorporation. Party Politics, p. 135406881877789.

    Swinnen, Johan 2018. The Political Economy of Agricultural and Food Policies. p. 35.

    Bomsel, Olivier 2018. Mineral rents and social orders: when Radetzki meets Douglass North. Mineral Economics, Vol. 31, Issue. 1-2, p. 7.

    London, Jonathan D. 2018. Welfare and Inequality in Marketizing East Asia. p. 45.

    Deléchat, Corinne Fuli, Ejona Mulaj, Dafina Ramirez, Gustavo and Xu, Rui 2018. Exiting from Fragility in Sub-Saharan Africa: The Role of Fiscal Policies and Fiscal Institutions. South African Journal of Economics,

    Fukuyama, Francis 2018. Institutions, Governance and the Control of Corruption. p. 51.


Book description

All societies must deal with the possibility of violence, and they do so in different ways. This book integrates the problem of violence into a larger social science and historical framework, showing how economic and political behavior are closely linked. Most societies, which we call natural states, limit violence by political manipulation of the economy to create privileged interests. These privileges limit the use of violence by powerful individuals, but doing so hinders both economic and political development. In contrast, modern societies create open access to economic and political organizations, fostering political and economic competition. The book provides a framework for understanding the two types of social orders, why open access societies are both politically and economically more developed, and how some 25 countries have made the transition between the two types.


Reviews of the hardback:‘With bravado, abandon, and great learning, North, Wallis, and Weingast have produced an excellent read - a book that is intriguing, entertaining, irritating, and provocative. Violence and Social Orders is an important book that deserves a wide readership. Its concepts will shape academic discourse and its arguments in the fields of economic history and development studies.'

Robert Bates Source: Journal of Economic Literature

‘If anyone is iconic in the economic history world Doug North certainly qualifies … This time, North is joined by two prominent and strong-minded co-authors, John Wallis and Barry Weingast. Their collaboration has been fruitful … Above all, the notion that one cannot simply 'get rid' of the superficial exterior of natural states and thereby uncover the beating heart of an open access order yearning to be free is the book's most important idea, and profound.'

Robert Margo Source: EH.Net

‘A demanding but rewarding work, with intriguing echoes of Marx … Highly recommended.'

Source: Choice

‘While there is still much more work to be done in understanding how to get from here to there, the authors' insights regarding the control of violence in natural, limited access societies versus modern, open-access societies are nonetheless major contributions … North, Wallis, and Weingast's analysis of violence and its suppression provides a simple, straightforward path to understanding both authoritarianism and transitional violence.'

D. Roderick Kiewiet Source: Journal of Economic History

‘… an immodestly titled and immoderately stimulating book …'

Jonathan Rauch Source: The National Journal

‘… strong, persuasive … Anyone interested in development, economic history, the analysis of institutions or the idea of a generalized social science would do well to read this book … what is new in the book is the way its authors have connected, systematized and synthesized these previously disparate ideas to produce the limited-/open-access framework with which they propose to interpret human history. Their framework proves strikingly effective at this task … the new social science paradigm it presents is compelling and worthy of wide attention.'

Mark Holden Source: International Affairs

'This much-anticipated, pioneering, sweeping millennial history explains how the evolution of impersonal and standardized treatment, a rule of law for elites, perpetual forms of organization, and consolidated political control of the military combined to produce the ‘open access' logic of rent erosion and economic growth often observed in the modern world. Emphatically multi-causal in approach, the book will persuade all those who want to analyze the complex interactions of beliefs, institutions, and organizations that they have to deal with its arguments.'

James Alt - Harvard University

'Why do we obey laws, adhere to rules, and conform to norms? Doug North, John Wallis, and Barry Weingast offer a simple, powerful, and compelling answer - disorder and the violence it entails. This book is must-reading for anyone serious about the origins of social order and the reasons for its disintegration.'

Stephen Ansolabehere - Harvard University

'A masterful and revealing interpretation of how ‘nasty, brutish, and short' became healthy, wealthy, and peaceful and why the transformation occurred in some nations but not in others.'

Claudia Goldin - Harvard University

'Violence and Social Orders is a thought-provoking, pioneering, and ambitious study. It should be read by anyone interested in the institutional underpinning of development.'

Avner Greif - Stanford University

'This book presents a powerful new theory of the interaction between law, politics, and the structure of power. It is sure to be influential for decades to come.'

Daniel Klerman - University of Southern California

'Why are poor countries poor and rich countries rich? North, Wallis, and Weingast explain why - it's the politics stupid! A compelling book for anyone who wants to understand the world.'

James A. Robinson - Harvard University

'A demanding but rewarding work, with intriguing echoes of Marx … Highly recommended.'

Source: Choice

Refine List
Actions for selected content:
Select all | Deselect all
  • View selected items
  • Export citations
  • Download PDF (zip)
  • Send to Kindle
  • Send to Dropbox
  • Send to Google Drive
  • Send content to

    To send 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 sending content to .

    To send content items to your Kindle, first ensure 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 sending to your Kindle.

    Note you can select to send to either the or variations. ‘’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘’ 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.

    Please be advised that item(s) you selected are not available.
    You are about to send

Save Search

You can save your searches here and later view and run them again in "My saved searches".

Please provide a title, maximum of 40 characters.


Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Book summary page views

Total views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between #date#. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed