chapter  12
A new view on institution
A neo-Durkheimian point of view
ByMichel Lallement
Pages 13

Beneath layers of meaning and controversy, the notion of “institution” has served as a cornerstone of social science. The German Historical School, commonly associated with Max Weber, played a pioneering role. From its inception, the German Historical School drew upon an interdisciplinary dialogue involving law, economics, history, etc., for the purpose of identifying and interpreting socio-economic transformations occurring at the end of the 19th century (Schmoller, 1911). This approach refuses to reduce practice to abstract rational action, preferring instead to seek the logic and scope of a given practice by situating it within a dense empirical substratum. This is one of the main messages of those who, following Gustave Schmoller’s lead, directly oppose Carl Menger’s marginalist theory and thereby create the basic framework of an institutionalist tradition.