Enacting Dismal Science

Part of the series Perspectives from Social Economics pp 183-200


Performativity and Emergence of Institutions

  • Ekaterina SvetlovaAffiliated withSchool of Management, University of Leicester


The article argues that performativity theory can shed light on the process of emergence of institutions. This process is not strictly constitutive: Institutions such as a new state, a new political party, or a firm do not appear at the very moment when somebody declares them as existent. There is always a time lag between the words (declaration) and an emergence of a social fact. In between, processes of persuasion, becoming accepted, that is, processes of formation of common beliefs and expectations, take place. Those processes refer to the perlocutionary aspects of speech acts and are theatrical in nature. Performativity is always about performance (theatricality of language). At the heart of performativity is not the question of how economists form economy but the question of how economic phenomena come into being in the processes of joint staging of fictions and making believe.