Historical Social Research

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Rainer Diaz-Bone: Discourses, Conventions, and Critique – Perspectives of the Institutionalist Approach of the Economics of Convention [Abstract]

The institutionalist approach of economics of conventions (EC) was developed in France in the last decades and recombines pragmatist and structuralist concepts. In EC, conventions are not regarded as institutions, but are conceived as interpretative frames how to interpret the meaning of institutions and situations, and how to handle institutions in situations of coordination. The difference between institutions and conventions offers space for “critical movements” and can implement a tension as well as an infrastructure for critique. The article introduces main concepts of EC, which could be applied to the analysis of social critique. In fact, the pragmatist analysis of critical moments and practices of justification was one of the birth moments of EC and EC has developed strategies to analyze and explain social change. The article presents some newer reflections of EC on power and dispositive. Furthermore, the article relates the Foucaultian notions of discourse and power to EC’s analysis of critique and social change. Finally, a current strand of EC research is discussed, which is the study and cri-tique of neoliberalism and the role of the state.

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