Methodological individualism and the emergence of inequality

Date created
2010-12-16
Authors/Contributors
Abstract
Methodological Individualism (MI) is one of the fundamental postulates of the research program of economic theory. This study attempts to illustrate how MI fails to address the essential reasons for the emergence of inequality as a large-scale socioeconomic phenomenon in prehistoric societies. It is claimed that the explanatory power of MI is not sufficient to construct a sound explanatory theory about prehistoric socioeconomic inequality. We try to argue that socio-political changes in transegalitarian societies transformed existing institutions into particular social orders that helped self-interested aggrandizing leaders to establish their socioeconomic authority. We also discuss how such institutional drift was an “artificial selection” in Darwinian terms, and so was unevolutionary in that sense. A sound methodological framework must address the theoretical role of social and economic interrelations among human subjects in addition to their individualistic attitudes and preferences. This approach is sketched in the last section by introducing Methodological Structuralism (MS).
Document
Identifier
etd6399
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