Catholic Social Thought and New Institutional Economics

An Assessment of Their Affinities and Areas of Potential Convergence

The potential link between Catholic social teaching (CST) and the theoretical developments associated with new institutional economics (NIE) are explored. The emphasis is on the contributions of two Nobel Prize winners in economics—Douglass C. North and Elinor Ostrom—and on the work of political scientist Vincent Ostrom. By adjusting the neoclassical presumptions dominating modern economic theory to include culture, ideas, and religious beliefs in the analysis of economic behavior, the economic and social theorizing developed by these scholars advances a framework that has significant affinities with CST’s foundational critique of economic concepts and theories and with its normative position regarding the nature and functioning of social and economic systems.

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