The Review of Austrian Economics

, Volume 22, Issue 1, pp 1–19 | Cite as

Inputs and institutions as conservative elements

  • Art CardenEmail author


Ludwig von Mises argued that capital goods were “conservative elements” that constrain future production decisions. Similarly, social capital and institutions also constrain future production decisions. These insights are applied to the institutional transformation of the post-Reconstruction American South. It is argued that the structure of social capital that developed in the South was inappropriate to the formal institutions that emerged as a result of the Civil War and Reconstruction. The tensions between institutions and social capital are examined in the context of racist lynching.


US South Racism Lynching Social capital Institutions 

JEL codes

B53 N11 N91 O18 



Peter J. Boettke, Emily Chamlee-Wright, Steven Horwitz, Jeremy Meiners, Douglass C. North, John V.C. Nye, Tara M. Sinclair, Virgil Storr, Marc Treutler, several anonymous referees, and seminar participants at Washington University in Saint Louis and the 2005 meetings of the Southern Economic Association in Washington, DC, USA, provided extensive and useful comments. Linda Gibson proofread the manuscript and made numerous helpful suggestions. Financial support from the Center for New Institutional Social Sciences, the Institute for Humane Studies, the Ludwig von Mises Institute, and the Society for the Development of Austrian Economics is gratefully acknowledged.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Economics and BusinessRhodes CollegeMemphisUSA

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