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Tempo Social

Print version ISSN 0103-2070On-line version ISSN 1809-4554


WRIGHT, Erik Olin. Beneficial constraints: beneficial for whom?. Tempo Soc. [online]. 2004, vol.16, n.2, pp.65-72. ISSN 0103-2070.

Wolfgang Streeck convincingly argues, in an influential paperpublished in 1997, that economic performance in market societiesis enhanced when the rational, voluntaristic choices of actorsare constrained by a variety of normative and institutionalconstraints. This paper offers three modifications of this centralDurkheimian thesis: (1) the meaning of "good performance" ofan economic system differs among class actors in a market economy;(2) the level of institutional constraint that is optimal for"good economic performance" in the interests of capitalistsis generally lower than the level of constraints that is optimalfor workers; and (3) institutional constraints on voluntaryrational choice - even those optimal for capitalists - alsomay have dynamic effects on the balance of power among socialforces which could lead capitalists to prefer suboptimal constraintsfrom the point of view of "economic performance".

Keywords : Class; Economic performance; Norms.

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