Morality and Institutions: An Exploration

This paper explores the question of how culturally varying views of 'morality', 'fairness' and 'justice', particularly those held by the rural poor in developing countries, influence the way people evaluate, work within, use and (sometimes) resist, economic institutions – especially the institutions that emerge or are actively promoted during 'development' (market-oriented or otherwise)? It reviews the way this and related questions have been dealt with in a wide range of subjects, including social anthropology, institutional economics, economic sociology, experimental economics, and the study of rural protest. It then discusses how insights about morality and its interactions with institutions could be incorporated more widely into our understanding of the relationship between institutions and development and, in particular, whether we should begin to understand moralities as part of the wider domain of informal institutions which interact with formal institutions to shape behaviours.

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Professor John Morton (ODI), 2008.

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Last modified: 31 March 2009

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