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Conceptualizing CapitalismInstitutions, Evolution, Future$
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Geoffrey M. Hodgson

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780226168005

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: January 2016

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226168142.001.0001

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Social Structure and Individual Motivation

Social Structure and Individual Motivation

(p.53) Chapter Two Social Structure and Individual Motivation
Conceptualizing Capitalism

Geoffrey M. Hodgson

University of Chicago Press

Chapter 2 outlines some basic and more general concepts and issues that are necessary before dealing with the more specific social formation of capitalism. A social structure is defined as a set of social relations between interacting individuals in a society. Social positions are designated social roles within social structures. Institutions are systems of established and prevalent social rules that structure social interactions. An organization is a special type of institution involving membership, principles of sovereignty, and a structure delineating responsibilities. It is then argued that systems such as capitalism cannot be understood purely in terms of the ideas people use to describe the system or are prevalent within it. Marx's base/superstructure metaphor is found wanting, partly because elements consigned to the “base” require legal terms to define them, while Marx allocated law to the “superstructure.” A brief, evolutionary-grounded account of human motivation is outlined, stressing that people have moral as well as selfish motives, as well as dispositions to obey authority.

Keywords:   social structure, social position, institutions, organizations, human evolution, moral motivation, respect for authority

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