Rainer Diaz-Bone & Robert Salais (Eds.): Conventions and Institutions from a Historical Perspective.
The French approach of “économie des conventions” (economics of convention, EC) today is one of the most important strands of the new pragmatic turn in social sciences. Here the concept of convention is used to analyze different forms of collective coordination under the conditions of uncertainty, of incomplete rules and of contingent quality definitions. Conventions are pragmatic assumptions that actors make in interacting with others and they assumed these conventions to be shared in situations. Conventions evolve as solutions to problems of coordination. In a society, conventions constitute a repertory of action registers, to which the building of institutions borrows for grounding and stabilizing collective action and cognition.
Today, EC is the only institutional approach in social sciences which was developed in a real cooperation between economists, sociologists, and historians. From a historical perspective the analysis of the emergence and of the change of conventional foundations of social coordination has been proved seminal to historical research in almost three decades.
The special issue of HSR assembles articles of international scholars who apply this approach to historical analysis and demonstrate the conceptual as well as the methodological potential of EC in the field of economic history.