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Dualism, duality and the complexity of economic institutions

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JournalInternational Journal of Social Economics
DatePublished - 1999
Issue number4
Number of pages14
Pages (from-to)545-558
Original languageEnglish


Dualism - the division of an object of study into separate, paired elements - is widespread in economic and social theorising: key examples are the divisions between agency and structure, the individual and society, mind and body, values and facts, and knowledge and practice. In recent years, dualism has been criticised as exaggerating conceptual divisions and promoting an oversimplified, reductive outlook. A possible alternative to dualism is the notion of duality, whereby the two elements are interdependent and no longer separate or opposed, although they remain conceptually distinct. This paper argues that duality, if handled carefully, can provide a superior framework to dualism for dealing with the complexity of economic and social institutions.

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    Research areas

  • dualism, duality, complexity, institutions, economic theory

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