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Resources and Power: Conclusion

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Chapter Summary

This view of "institutions as rules" has been complemented by the approaches of the "New Institutional Economics" which stress the role of "institutions as equilibria". This perspective focuses "on how interactions among purposeful agents create the structure that gives each of them the motivation to act in a manner perpetuating this structure". In this connection, A. Greif has referred to "coercion-constrained institutions", which are those affecting the relationships between the rulers and the ruled in such complex ways that they are liable to "make violence economically productive". These institutions trade security and redistribution of assets for a reduction of the capacity of coercive power by dominant classes, the result being a "balance of coercive powers within a polity". This favours, for instance, the existence of tax systems, whose prevalence or absence reveal critical issues concerning how coercion was exercised by states, its action costs and the results it produced.

Keywords: A. Grief; coercion-constrained institutions; immaterial assets; New Institutional Economics; tax systems; trade security



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