How to sustain cooperation is a key challenge for any society. Different social organizations have evolved in the course of history to cope with this challenge by relying on different combinations of external (formal and informal) enforcement institutions and intrinsic motivation. Some societies rely more on informal enforcement and moral obligations within their constituting groups. Others rely more on formal enforcement and general moral obligations towards society at large. How do culture and institutions interact in generating different evolutionary trajectories of societal organizations? Do contemporary attitudes, institutions and behavior reflect distinct pre-modern trajectories? This paper addresses these questions by examining the bifurcation in the societal organizations of pre-modern China and Europe. It focuses on their distinct epitomizing social structures, the clan and the city, that sustain cooperation through different mixes of enforcement and intrinsic motivation. The Chinese clan is a kinship-based hierarchical organization in which strong moral ties and reputation among clan’s members are particularly important in sustaining cooperation. In Medieval Europe, by contrast, the main example of a cooperative organization is the city. Here cooperation is across kinship lines and external enforcement plays a bigger role. But morality and reputation, although weaker, also matter and extend beyond one’s kin. The analysis exposes the impact of different initial moral systems and kinship organizations on China’s and Europe’s distinct cultural and institutional trajectories during the last millennium. These initial conditions influenced subsequent evolution through complementarities between moral systems and institutions. The implied social relations, moral obligations, and enforcement capacity further influenced the interactions with other external organizations (such as other cities or clans, or higher state authority), which further reinforced the distinct trajectories. This paper’s historical and comparative institutional analysis is based on the model in Avner Greif and Guido Tabellini (2010). It combines the analysis of generalized and limited morality (Tabellini 2008) with the analysis of the evolution of institutional complexes composed of complementary institutional and cultural elements (Greif 2006, ch. 7). A comparable analysis of the impact of initial beliefs and social structures is provided by Greif (1994, 2006, ch 9).

Cultural and Institutional Bifurcation: China and Europe Compared

TABELLINI, GUIDO
2010

Abstract

How to sustain cooperation is a key challenge for any society. Different social organizations have evolved in the course of history to cope with this challenge by relying on different combinations of external (formal and informal) enforcement institutions and intrinsic motivation. Some societies rely more on informal enforcement and moral obligations within their constituting groups. Others rely more on formal enforcement and general moral obligations towards society at large. How do culture and institutions interact in generating different evolutionary trajectories of societal organizations? Do contemporary attitudes, institutions and behavior reflect distinct pre-modern trajectories? This paper addresses these questions by examining the bifurcation in the societal organizations of pre-modern China and Europe. It focuses on their distinct epitomizing social structures, the clan and the city, that sustain cooperation through different mixes of enforcement and intrinsic motivation. The Chinese clan is a kinship-based hierarchical organization in which strong moral ties and reputation among clan’s members are particularly important in sustaining cooperation. In Medieval Europe, by contrast, the main example of a cooperative organization is the city. Here cooperation is across kinship lines and external enforcement plays a bigger role. But morality and reputation, although weaker, also matter and extend beyond one’s kin. The analysis exposes the impact of different initial moral systems and kinship organizations on China’s and Europe’s distinct cultural and institutional trajectories during the last millennium. These initial conditions influenced subsequent evolution through complementarities between moral systems and institutions. The implied social relations, moral obligations, and enforcement capacity further influenced the interactions with other external organizations (such as other cities or clans, or higher state authority), which further reinforced the distinct trajectories. This paper’s historical and comparative institutional analysis is based on the model in Avner Greif and Guido Tabellini (2010). It combines the analysis of generalized and limited morality (Tabellini 2008) with the analysis of the evolution of institutional complexes composed of complementary institutional and cultural elements (Greif 2006, ch. 7). A comparable analysis of the impact of initial beliefs and social structures is provided by Greif (1994, 2006, ch 9).
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11565/3720535
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