Maria Eugenia Mata, Faculdade de Economia, Universidade Nova de Lisboa, and
Juergen Nautz, Kassel University and University of Vienna
We are organizing a session for the, on the subject of
“Ethnic, Religious .OR Cultural Plurality and Economic Institution Building”
for the 14th World Congress of the International Economic History Association to be held in Helsinki, in Summer 2006, additionally a preconference (2nd half of 2004 or early 2005) and eventually a workshop are planed.
There are no geographical or temporal restrictions (but 19th and 20th century preferred) for papers.
Theoretical and empirical papers are welcome.
Applicants should focus on economic history.
Participants should be willing to publish their paper in our anthology
Deadline for paper submissions: March, 25, 2003
Please submit you proposals to the contact below.
THE THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK OF THIS PROJECT:
Economic and social sets of human rights (such as political and civil rights) have been defined primarily as individual rights. John Rawls for instance deals with the problem of “how a society should determine what constitutes a basic set of rights and thus constitutes justice: each of us should go behind a metaphorical veil of ignorance where we determine what we think our rights should be with no knowledge of what our actual economic standing, educational level, gender, or ethnic origin would be.” (Nikolas K. Gvosdev) The individual and methodological individualism are basic assumptions of Western economic theory (Neoclassical economic theory or New Institutional Economics).
History and recent experience, however, provide numerous examples that show that the individual is profoundly influenced by his or her group identity. This applies to family relationships as well as religious, cultural or ethnic senses of belonging. If we accept that individuals are defined by their group membership we must attend to the effects on the structure and functioning of economic institutions and organizations; and of course on institutional change. In their analysis of the limits of institutional competition in the development of the European Economic and Monetary Union Daniel Kiwit and Stefan Voigt have reached the conclusion that external institutions, such as property rights, are supported by the population when their substance is in harmony with the society's internal institutions. Only then is the legitimacy and survival of external institutions guaranteed.
History provides a wealth of illustrations. For instance if this argument is applied to the ethnic interests within the Habsburg empire, considerable supporting evidence can be found. Consider the successful Czech efforts to develop their own banking system and industrial structure, and the Hungarian industrialization policies.
Fiscal and monetary policies affect different segments of society differently and have distributional and social consequences. For this reason, interest groups try to influence the structure of the fiscal and monetary order as well as economic and monetary policy. In the Habsburg Monarchy this expressed itself in the competition between the political representatives of the various nationalities for mobile resources. To the extent that they possessed their own external institutions (laws, state ordinances etc.), as in the case of the Germans and Hungarians they also made use of them. Competition using external institutions was a characteristic but not the only feature of the rivalry between the Austrian and Hungarian lands. A second component, the only one available to the national minorities in the two halves of the empire, was competition using internal institutions (social mores, morality, language etc.: "Pláè koruny èeské"). This was done by criticizing real or imagined political, social and economic discrimination as well as emphasizing values such as national self-determination, protection of ethnic, cultural or linguistic identity and cohesion etc. The ethnically oriented organizations pinned their hopes on a new definition of the citizen that no longer emphasized the position of the individual as a citizen, but his role as a member of an ethnic group: In the Roman Empire Jews possessed the status of a religio licita, and as such enjoyed specific rights as Jews such as the right not to work on the Jewish Sabbath. Such rights were not granted to the individual Jew but to the Jewish collective. This distinguished them for example from the Celts. The millet system of the Ottoman Empire – a further example – defined each group in the state via their religious community with the consequence that inhabitants of the same town or village had different rights and duties, dependent on their faith. Further examples of a tension between group interests and central economic institutions are found in many other societies. It is therefore meaningful and productive to deal with this problem: “ethnic, religious, or cultural plurality and economic institution building”.
This project doesn't intend a discourse about the well-known associations question: cartels, labor unions, and so on. Rather, we hope to examine the neglected interaction between central economic institutions and social plurality or fragmentation. When a society is deeply divided among different ethnic groups, democratic politics that emphasize individual rights and liberties may contradict ethnic collective demands. Thus, scholars like Arend Lijphard claim that it is not democracy but the “type” of democratic institutions that matters in conflict management in ethnically or religious plural societies. These scholars consider political institutions a means of ameliorating conflict in ethnically plural nations. Therefore a democratic political system may be problematic unless proper political institutions are established for the accommodation of ethnic, cultural or religious differences. They suggest consensus and decentralized type of democratic institutions as more feasible alternatives for these societies than majoritarian and centralized democratic institutions.
Democratic politics can be considered as a competition for the representation of various interests in politics. However, in multi–ethnic states there might be a gap between the interests represented in the state and the demands raised by the “people” because the society is divided along linguistic, cultural, or religious lines. For some groups democratic governments may not be legitimate if the group lacks explicit representation and influence over policies. As important constituents of modern politics, ethnic groups may aim at the promotion of their cultural, socioeconomic, and political goals. In some cases ethnic groups mobilize against the state through separatist movements claiming their own nation. For example, the French in Canada and the Basques in Spain are two ethnic nationalities; one relatively poor (Quebec) and the other relatively wealthy (Basque that seek formal collective recognition.
The institutional perspective asserts that democracy may become problematic in multi–ethnic societies if institutional arrangements are made without taking ethnic divisions into consideration. Arend Lijphart coined the term "consociationalism" to describe the sharing of power between segments of society joined together by a common citizenship but divided by ethnicity, language, religion, or other factors. Some rights are given, therefore, to communities rather than to individuals, resulting in over- or under-representation for individuals from some segments of society. (One long-standing example is the creation of the United States Senate. Each state gets two senators; geographic equality. Alaska, with 400,000 people, has two senators, while California, with thirty million people, also has two. Alaskans are over-represented in the Senate by a factor of approximately 100 compared to Californians. This exists even though the United States upholds in principle, the idea of one-personone-vote.) A number of countries are openly and deliberately governed by the principles of "consociationalism." These include Belgium, South Africa, Zimbabwe, India, the Netherlands, Austria, Switzerland, Cyprus, Lebanon, and Northern Ireland (after Good Friday agreements of 1998).
In this project we want to discuss two fundamental questions. For every form of national economic cooperation are the advantages of cooperation great enough to compensate for the possible disadvantages? Are the incentives to observe the agreements great enough to ensure the continuation of cooperation?
Univ.-Doz. Dr. Jürgen Nautz
Dep. of Law and Social Sciences, Kassel University
Dep. of Economics, University of Vienna
Send comments and questions to H-Net
Webstaff. H-Net reproduces announcements that have been submitted to us as a
free service to the academic community. If you are interested in an announcement
listed here, please contact the organizers or patrons directly. Though we strive
to provide accurate information, H-Net cannot accept responsibility for the text of
announcements appearing in this service. (Administration)