Spontaneous order and social norms. Hayek’s theory of socio-cultural evolution
Hayek’s theory of socio-cultural evolution is a generalization of his theory on spontaneous market order. Hayek explains both the emergence of market and social institutions serving as a social basis for that order within the framework of a unified evolutionary logic. This logic interprets the emergence and survival of spontaneous order and group-level rules of conduct as an unintended consequence of human action. In order to explain the emergence of social norms exclusively on the basis of methodological individualism, one would have to give up an exclusively evolutionary explanation of these norms. Since Hayek applies the invisible-hand explanation to the investigation of social norms, he combines the position of methodological individualism with functionalist-evolutionary arguments in his analysis. Hayek’s theory of socio-cultural evolution represents a theory in the framework of which methodological individualism and functionalism do not crowd out but complement each other.
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Gedeon, Péter (2015) Spontaneous order and social norms. Hayek’s theory of socio-cultural evolution. Society and Economy, 37 (1). pp. 1-29. ISSN 1588-9726