How Societies Make The Initial Institutional Choice? Criticizing the “accident development” concept and introduction to the structural approach

Publication type Article
Status Published
Occupation: Laboratory senior research fellow, Department assistant professor
Laboratory for Comparative Social Research, National Research University Higher School of Economics, NRU HSE St. Petersburg
Department of Political Science, NRU HSE-St.Petersburg
Address: 55–2 Sedova str., St.-Petersburg, Russia 192171
Journal nameObshchestvennye nauki i sovremennost
EditionIssue 5

The paper aims to criticize one of the key argument of neoinstitutional theory – the “accidental” nature of institutional choice. The most consistently this idea is represented in Acemoglu and Robinson’s seminal book “Why nations fail”. According to their approach, the initial institutional choice is influenced by accidental, random historical circumstances. I disagree with this assumption due to the fact that it ignores microfoundations of the institutional choice in European societies. Using various historical data on demography, environment, economy I demonstrate the effects of structural conditions on modernization and further choice for inclusive institutions in North-West Europe. Referring to the ”model” comparison of England and Spain in the early Modern Time I show that England was much more developed than Spain prior to the moment of the institutional choice. That allows me to argue that the institutional choice in England was not accidental. The main conclusion is that institutions are the reason of development, but they are the consequence of development.

Keywordsinstitutional choice, european modernization, demography, geography, Great Britain. Spain, Modern time
Publication date17.10.2017
Number of characters1177
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