Family Institution

Topics: Family, Marriage, Middle Ages, Nuclear family / Pages: 11 (2555 words) / Published: Feb 10th, 2013
Family Structure, Institutions, and Growth: The Origins and Implications of Western Corporations
By AVNER GREIF*
There is a vast amount of literature that considers the importance of the family as an institution. Little attention, however, has been given to the impact of the family structure and its dynamics on institutions. This limits our ability to understand distinct institutional developments—and hence growth—in the past and present. This paper supports this argument by highlighting the importance of the European family structure in one of the most fundamental institutional changes in history and reflects on its growth-related implications. What constituted this change was the emergence of the economic and political corporations in late medieval Europe. Corporations are defined as consistent with their historical meaning: intentionally created, voluntary, interest-based, and self-governed permanent associations. Guilds, fraternities, universities, communes, and city-states are some of the corporations that have historically dominated Europe; businesses and professional associations, business corporations, universities, consumer groups, counties, republics, and democracies are examples of corporations in modern societies. The provision of corporation-based institutions to mitigate problems of cooperation and conflict constituted a break from the ways in which institutions had been provided in the past. Historically, large kinship groups—such as clans, lineages, and tribes— often secured the lives and property of their members and provided them with social safety nets. Institutions were also often provided by states and governed by customary or authoritarian rulers and by religious authorities. Private-order, usually undesigned, institutions also prevailed. Corporation-based institutions can substitute for institutions provided in these ways. When they substitute for kinship groups and provide social safety nets, corporations complement the nuclear family. An



References: Bates, Robert; Greif, Avner and Singh, Smita. “Organizing Violence.” Journal of Conflict Resolution, 2002, 46(5), pp. 599 – 628. Berman, Harold J. Law and revolution: The formation of the Western legal tradition. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1983. Bittles, Alan H. “The Role and Significance of Consanguinity as a Demographic Variable.” Population and Development Review, 1994, 20(3), pp. 561– 84. Goody, Jack. The development of the family and marriage in Europe. Cambridge, MA: Cambridge University Press, 1983. Greif, Avner. “Commitment, Coercion, and Markets: The Nature and Dynamics of Institutions Supporting Exchange,” in Claude Me´ nard and Mary M. Shirley, eds., The handbook of new institutional economics. Norwell, MA: Kluwer Academic Publishers, 2005. Greif, Avner. Institutions and the path to economic modernity: Lessons from medieval trade. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006. Hamilton, Gary G. “The Organizational Foundations of Western and Chinese Commerce: A 312 AEA PAPERS AND PROCEEDINGS MAY 2006 Historical and Comparative Analysis,” in Gary G. Hamilton, ed., Business networks and economic development in East and Southeast Asia. Hong Kong: University of Hong Kong Press, 1991, pp. 48 – 65. Jabar, Faleh A. and Dawod, Hosham. Tribes and power: Nationalism and ethnicity in the Middle East. London: Saqi Books, 2003. Korotayev, Andrey V. “Unilineal Descent Organization and Deep Christianization: A Cross- Cultural Comparison.” Cross-Cultural Research, 2003, 37(1), pp. 133–57. Kuran, Timur. “Why the Islamic Middle East Did Not Generate an Indigenous Corporate Law.” University of Southern California, Law and Economics Working Paper Series: No. 16, 2004. Persson, Torsten and Tabellini, Guido. “Democratic Capital: The Nexus of Political and Economic Change.” Unpublished Paper, 2005.

You May Also Find These Documents Helpful

  • The Family Institution
  • Family Institutions
  • Social Institution: Family
  • Social Institution of the Family
  • The Social Institution of Family
  • The Family as a Social Institution
  • Sociological Theories and Family Institution
  • MPU 2322 FAMILY INSTITUTION
  • Nuclear Family Is a Universal Institution
  • Social Institutions of the Family(Notes)