ABSTRACT

What are the main theories of economic life and the relationship between economy and society? Not surprisingly this is a very difficult question to answer. There are many varied contributions to this topic, ranged, as we have already noted in the past two chapters, across a number of intellectual disciplines. While some contributions are oriented quite explicitly to some general theory of economy and society, others focus on delimited middlerange theories, often pursued through detailed case-studies. Analytical literature on economic life has often been quite pragmatic or eclectic in its theoretical orientation. This is especially true of the diffuse approach known as institutionalism, whose proponents have included scholars such as J.R. Commons and J .K. Galbraith. In work of this kind the primary focus is on establishing how institutions such as governments or trade unions actually work in constituting economic relations, with little overt attention to grand theory.