Research School for Socio-Economic and
Natural Sciences of the Environment
Research School for Socio-Economic and
Natural Sciences of the Environment

Social orders, Institutions and Long-Term Economic Development

Date: 23 February 2018 - 16 March 2018
Location: Wageningen University, Leeuwenborch

In this Interdisciplinary Window (IW) PhD students will engage in-depth with the cutting-edge literature on the role of violence, social orders and institutions in long-term economic development led by Nobel-laureate Douglas North (1920-2015). Together with Barry Weingast and John Wallis (top scholars in the field of political economy and economic history), North published the extremely influential book “Violence and Social Orders. A Conceptual Framework for Interpreting Recorded Human History” (2009), which will be the core reading of this IW.

This book is dense, complex and extremely challenging, but it is ‘a must read’ for students in social sciences working on topics such as growth, governance and social structure. Students will read the book thoroughly and discuss the various theories and key concepts with respect to 1) long-term paths of economic growth and historical escapes from poverty; 2) the political economy of institutional rigidity and change ; 3) the nature of social orders and the role of violence in the historical evolution of societies and 4) the transition that societies can make from limited access orders (LAOs) to open access orders (OAOs).

This IW is particularly relevant for students who want to understand the deeper historical relations between political, economic and social development. The book will be read and discussed in a number of group meetings with professors Frankema and Bulte. Students are examined on the basis of a short essay in which they apply (part of) the NWW framework..

Intended credits2 ECTS
Course organisationWageningen School of Social Sciences
More informationCourse website


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