Goldsmiths-IMS Economics Seminar Series
The Nature of Social Conventions
Philosophers have debated about whether there is a fundamental difference between the social and the natural worlds for over a hundred years. One key and widely accepted difference that has emerged from this debate is that many (perhaps all) social phenomena are normative in some loose sense (they refer to some standard of conduct or rule that determines correct behaviour), whereas natural phenomena are not. Another is that they are socially constructed. In the simplest sense, this means that not only do we make them (like tables and chairs) but they would cease to exist if we did not exist (whereas tables and chairs would not). These two philosophical reflections suggest that social norms are a foundational concept for the social sciences, yet they remain poorly understood by most practising social scientists. I will discuss a particular species of social norms that has received significant attention from economists and management scholars in recent years: social conventions. I will offer a preliminary definition of social convention before focussing on the major theoretical contributions to convention theory and placing them in historical context. I will then illustrate how conventions can be used to advance social scientific theorising and help us to better understand the world around us.
John Latsis is an Associate Professor in Social and Organisational Theory at Henley Business School. He previously held a Junior Research Fellowship at the University of Oxford and was a visiting scholar at Harvard University. His research interests are in social theory and economic philosophy and cover questions about the nature of conventional behaviour and rule following in social life, the influence of theory on economic action, and the socio-economic dimensions of human need. His recent publications include articles in the Cambridge Journal of Economics, the Journal of Institutional Economics and the British Journal of Sociology. John is also an editor of Economic Thought, a journal published by the World Economics Association that focuses on the philosophy, methodology and history of economics.
Dates & times
|Date||Time||Add to calendar|
|24 Jan 2018||4:30pm - 6:30pm|
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