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Understanding the culture of markets: A reflection


This essay examines Virgil Storr’s (2013) Understanding the Culture of Markets, particularly the relationship between cultures and constitutions and the particulars of the ideal-typical ‘spirit’ of capitalism. Culture cannot be viewed as a constitution, I argue, because of fundamental differences between the two types of guidance to conduct, both for the actors within them and the researchers studying them. I also consider possibly conflicting interpretations of the idea of the animating spirit(s) of a market in the context of Storr’s example of the economic culture of the Bahamas.

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  1. And of course, despite the primacy of link to the Weberian tradition in Understanding the Culture of Markets, Schutz’s (1967) work can be seen as a conscious effort to adopt the work of Weber to survive in a Misesian framework, particularly the critiques presented in Epistomological Problems of Economics. (Mises 2003)

  2. Most obviously in divisions between totalitarian states and their more liberal neighbors, or perhaps historically in crossing the walls of a ghetto.

  3. Indeed in this case even the individual’s idea of which cultural identity (and corresponding framework of meaning) is supervening upon the other is in doubt.

  4. This section thus agrees with Storr’s claim that “culture is much more like a constitution than it is like capital.” (2013:54) but disagrees that that allows us to view culture as a constitution.

  5. Fixed could be at two levels: either dealing with a period of time during which we leave aside the possibility of amendments, or at a meta-level where the constitution binds the amendment process as well. Rather than becoming variable if the amendment structures are disregarded, we can see the constitutional order here as having failed, no longer defining the boundaries of action. That the idea that a cultural framework could no longer have influence in this same way is difficult to conceive is another argument that the two concepts are totally distinct.

  6. Or possibly cores, as we will see in the next section.


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Correspondence to Solomon M. Stein.

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Stein, S.M. Understanding the culture of markets: A reflection. Rev Austrian Econ 27, 489–493 (2014).

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  • Culture
  • Interpretive economics
  • Virgil Storr
  • Max Weber


  • A12
  • B41
  • B53
  • L20
  • N90
  • P16
  • P50
  • Z10