Complexity in the theory of economic evolution of Thorstein Veblen: an introduction
João Vitor Oliveira da Silva
João Vitor Oliveira da Silva is a master’s student in Economics, Institute of Economics, University of Campinas, São Paulo, Brazil. The author thanks the National Council for Scientific and Technological Development (CNPq, Brazil) for his master’s scholarship.
Please cite the paper as:
João Vitor Oliveira da Silva, (2017), Complexity in the theory of economic evolution of Thorstein Veblen: an introduction, World Economics Association (WEA) Conferences, No. 2 2017, Economic Philosophy, Complexities in Economics
Thorstein Veblen is a classic author, recognized for his writings on institutions and economic change. The complexity perspective, on the other hand, is a relatively contemporary approach for studying a considerable range of phenomena both in natural and social sciences. There are important issues concerning the relation between the two lines of inquiry, but, in comparison, few works that undertake the task of investigating those links. This paper attempts to take some introductory steps in that direction in two ways. First, it identifies zones of convergence between the complexity view and Veblen’s theory of economic evolution. Secondly, it makes an effort to interpret the latter in terms of the former. Three major elements are emphasized in this regard, namely the psychology of the agents, the continuous evolution and adaptation of the institutional structure and the role of technology in this process. The conclusion is that, although being a preliminary effort, this paper establishes a good case for a more profound comprehension of Veblen’s work as circumscribed in the more broad complexity approach, providing, moreover, some directions on how this ought to be accomplished.