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Recall that North describes institutions as “humanly devised constraints that structure political, economic, and social interaction [and] consist of

Recall that North describes institutions as “humanly devised constraints that structure political, economic, and social interaction [and] consist of both informal constraints (sanctions, taboos, customs, traditions, and codes of conduct), and formal rules (constitutions, laws, property rights)” (North, 1990, 97). What are the limitations and/or strengths of North’s account of how institutions help us understand capitalist development? How convincing is North’s framework compared to Polanyi or Robinson’s, particularly with respect to the role of social protection and the making of the working class? All three scholars look to European, and English economic and social history in particular, to support their arguments. What are some historical examples we read in their work that you think illustrate either the portability or shortcomings of the institutionalist perspective?

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