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Exchange versus influence: a case of idealization

[journal article]

Balzer, Wolfgang

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Abstract The intertheoretical relation between economic equilibrium theory and a theory of social institutions is studied in reduced form, i.e. by comparing the central primitives rather than the full formal models. It is shown that equilibrium can be regarded as a limit of institutions with ever more symmetrical power relations. Economic equilibrium theory thus is shown to be an idealization of the theory of social institutions. A provisionary topology which gives substance to the notion of a limit is defined "internally", i.e. by reference to items occurring in the models only. The meta-scientific status of idealization is briefly discussed.
Keywords equilibrium; theoretical economics; social institution; ideal type; theory formation; economy; sociology; market; equilibrium theory; sociological theory; exchange theory; barter
Classification Philosophy of Science, Theory of Science, Methodology, Ethics of the Social Sciences; General Sociology, Basic Research, General Concepts and History of Sociology, Sociological Theories; National Economy
Method theory formation; epistemological
Free Keywords economy; equilibrium; social institution; idealization
Document language English
Publication Year 1994
Page/Pages p. 189-203
Journal Poznan studies in the philosophy of the sciences and the humanities, 38 (1994)
Status Published Version; reviewed
Licence Creative Commons - Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works