Evolutionary and Institutional Economics Review

, Volume 16, Issue 2, pp 433–453 | Cite as

Social preference and civil society in the institutional analysis of capitalisms: an attempt to integrate Samuel Bowles’ The Moral Economy and Robert Boyer’s Régulation Theory

  • Hiroyasu UemuraEmail author


Samuel Bowles’ “civic social preference” in The Moral Economy and Robert Boyer’s “civil society” in the régulation theory show in-depth understanding of modern society and capitalism. In this paper, the difference between their theories and possible complementary relationships are considered. First, it is necessary to understand the formation of civic social preferences with multi-layered institutions and actors both inside and outside the market economy. Citizens’ social preferences can potentially develop in a way that complements the market economy, supported by the rule of law and liberal institutions, as suggested by Bowles, as well as “civil society” in the régulation theory. This understanding is particularly important in the labor market with incomplete contracts. Second, it is necessary to develop complementary analyses of the formation of citizens’ preferences at the micro- and macro-levels. In Bowles’ framework, the rule of law and civic institutions promote the development of civic social preferences by reducing market risks, and market risks and income distribution are determined by macroeconomic dynamics, as suggested by the régulation theory. Third, it is necessary to analyze democratic processes between legislators and citizens that are determined by the dynamic feedback of the political and economic domains. In promoting policymakers’ preferences with the appreciation of citizenship and democracy, the political participation of citizens plays an important role, as suggested in Boyer’s “civic social democracy.”


Social preference Civil society The moral economy The régulation theory Samuel Bowles Robert Boyer 

JEL Classification

B21 B52 P51 


Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

There is no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by the author.


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Copyright information

© Japan Association for Evolutionary Economics 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Graduate School of International Social SciencesYokohama National UniversityYokohamaJapan

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