How Institutions Evolve: Evolutionary theory and institutional change
Title: How Institutions Evolve: Evolutionary theory and institutional change
Citation: Polity, 2012, 44, 3, 314–339
ISSN: 1744-1684; 0032-3497
External link: http://www.palgrave-journals.com/polity/podcast_archive.html
This article argues that questions of gradual institutional change can be understood as an evolutionary process that can be explained through the careful application of “generalized Darwinism.” We argue that humans' advanced cognitive capacities contribute to an evolutionary understanding of institutional change. In constantly generating new variation upon which mechanisms of selection and replication operate, cognition, cognitive schemas, and ideas become central for understanding the building of human institutions, as well as the scope and pace of their evolution. Evolutionary theories thus provide a broad theoretical framework that integrates the study of cognition, ideas, and decision-making with other literatures that focus on institutional change and human evolution.
This paper is also the product of the insightful contributions of numerous participants in the workshop “Do Institutions Evolve?” held in May 2009 at the Robert Schuman Centre at the European University Institute.; External link is for Polity Podcast: Interview with the author on the article
Type of Access: openAccess