Subjectivist Social Change: The Influence of Culture and Ideas on Economic Policy

Anthony Evans

Advisor: .

Enterprise Hall, 318
February 04, 2007, 07:00 PM to 07:00 PM


This dissertation applies and expands subjectivist economic theory to study the two major constraints facing radicals: embedded culture and vested interests. Human action is inherently tied to expectations, and this requires an epistemic framework to assess outcomes. Culturally based ideal-types provide the necessary structure within which social behaviour can be analysed, and shed light on the cultural barriers to institutional change. At the constitutional level, ideas are a pre-analytic cognitive act that predetermine and dictate the direction of vested interests. Epistemic communities (in contrast to interest groups) disseminate ideas and have the capacity to seize constitutional moments and enact radical policy reform. This process is underpinned by radical uncertainty, and rests upon a capital structure of epistemic choice. These claims are subjected to empirical analysis with a systematic study of the spread of the flat tax throughout post-communist Europe. A comparative methodology is utilized and demonstrates that whilst interest-explanations explain the spread of economic policy, idea-drivers are required to understand the source. This supports the view that rational-choice political science requires an epistemic element, and contributes to a broader, subjectivist approach to social change.